Ran across an illuminating quote of Luther the other day. He’s speaking in general about the way false teachers interact with the rest of the people in the church when he says:
And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool, and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people bear with them. But no patience is to be exercised toward true teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17:9 and elsewhere. When only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of God cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives injury and derision for his reward.
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VII, p. 110f. Second Sunday before Lent. 2 Corinthians 11:19-33; 12:1-9. Psalm 17:9.
Luther is right when he says this. God permits faithful teachers of His Word to be attacked, scrutinized, defamed, and complained against. This is a gift to those same faithful teachers, for it helps them to make doubly sure of what they believe, teach, and confess. They need to know why what they believe is right and how the other side is wrong, deadly wrong — and oftentimes the other side doesn’t realize it. The dear cross, the hardship and suffering that inevitably come from a faithful confession of Christ and all He taught and gave, confirms God’s faithful servants in their right course by forcing them to cling to the truth — because that’s the only way they can endure the storm. Through the cross God brings His faithful people to eternal life.
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Ps 119:104)
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Rom 16.18)