It is a dangerous thing when a correct preacher of God’s Word acquires great support and following so that people praise him, or, on the other hand, when people say evil things about him, slander, mock, and despise him. For praise and honor tickle a man, but defamation and shame make him despondent and sad; so a man stands between two spears. If he is held in honor and his old Adam feels it, this is pleasant for him. But as the tongue tastes and feels what is sharp and bitter, like absinthe, or what is sweet, like sugar and honey; so it is saddening to hear that someone is defaming or slandering you. But if someone is false and his “kidneys” are not armed, he gets drunk on the praise and pleasure and laughs himself to death when people praise and honor him; on the other hand, if people defame him, he grieves himself to death. He lets himself be tickled by the shaft of the ministry. He turns his eyes away from the divine Word to his own pleasure, and he does not say as does David here, “Only winnow me thoroughly.” It is as though he were saying: “Do not let me have pleasure in myself nor joy in my honor, but let me simply say: ‘I intend Thine honor, and I seek the salvation of my neighbor.’ Otherwise, if I am not to seek these two things, rather let me keep quiet and not preach. For I have recognized what is right; therefore I am also praying, let me remain constant in it.”
But it is an insight of faith to know and to see that good works, self-glory, and holy life do not do it, but only God’s kindness.
Luther’s works, vol. 12: