In Christ’s Church there are Spiritual fathers who govern and guide God’s people according to His Word. In this sense St Paul boasts his fatherhood in 1 Corinthians 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Now, since they are fathers, they are entitled to their honour, even above all others.
But to spiritual fathers the least amount of honour is bestowed. The way the world knows for honouring them is to drive them out of the country and to begrudge them a piece of bread. In short, spiritual fathers must be, (as St Paul says in [1 Corinthians 4:13] like the filth of the world and everybody’s refuse and foot rag.
Yet, there is need that this truth about spiritual fatherhood also be taught to the people. For those who want to be Christians are obliged in God’s sight to think them worthy of double honour who minister to their souls [1 Timothy 5:17-18]. They are obligated to deal well with them and provide for them. For that reason, God is willing to bless you enough and not let you run out. But in this matter, everyone refuses to be generous and resists. All are afraid they will perish from bodily needs and cannot now support one respectable preacher, where formerly they filled ten potbellies. Because of this, we also deserve for God to deprive us of His and blessing and to allow preachers of lies to arise again and lead us to the devil.
But those who keep God’s will and commandment in sight have this promise: everything they give to temporal and spiritual fathers, and whatever they do to honour them, shall be richly repaid to them. They will not have bread, clothing, and money for a year or two, but will have long life, support, and peace. They shall be eternally rich and blessed. So just do what is your duty. Let God manage how He will support you and provide enough for you. Since He has promised it and never lied yet, He will not be found lying to you [Titus 1:2].
Extract: Large Catechism; Dr Martin Luther, Concordia, 2nd ed. CPH, 2006, p. 377