The Holy Spirit’s Courage and Pride

Easter 6 Wednesday

John 14:16-17

“And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, to remain with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive. For it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him. For he remains with you and will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit is not only a Comforter who makes Christians bold and courageous against all sorts of terrors. He also is a Spirit of truth, that is, a truthful, certain Spirit who does not deceive nor lets us go astray. For this is also necessary for them to become bold and undeterred. For there must not be the kind of confused mind, determination, and courage that are found in mad soldiers and daredevils who gladly engage swords, lances, and muskets. To be sure, this is a gladness, but it is a false comfort and courage because they rely either on their own strength or on vain honor and glory. This is why there is a spirit alright, but it is not the right truthful Spirit. For the evil spirit is also able to puff up the people and make them daring and courageous, as one can see in his tyrants and sects who are all too glad and bold, but it is not the kind of courage and boldness that is right and good before God. But Christ promises to give a Spirit who will make us courageous in such a way that it is called a divine, holy courage and boldness. This is why it is to be called an honest, truthful comfort and courage that is not false and that also is not an empty dare that is based on something uncertain. Rather, this courage is fundamentally honest and relies on something that neither fails nor deceives. The world is bold and courageous when its wallets and coffers are full. Then there is such pride and courage that the devil could not overcome a rich farmer. Another person is courageous based on his nobility and power, favor and honor among the people. If someone is smart or wise, he is courageous based on his head and is so self-assured that no one can fend him off. And no one wants to yield to the other if he has more power, honor, ability, money, or possessions. But when you consider it properly, it is nothing but the courage of fools and children; it will not last. The comfort and courage of Christendom, however, is created by the Holy Spirit. It is to be such that it proceeds constantly and on the right basis. This is how it is heartily pleasing to God and his angels. … It is a different heart, mind, and courage than the world’s. It is able to disregard body and life, nobility and friendship, and everything the world has and on which it bases its courage. This kind of courage must certainly be the work of the Holy Spirit alone. It must have the heavenly Father’s wholehearted delight where there is such a heart that certainly and firmly concludes and sticks with that conclusion: “I will not forsake the Lord Christ; let those rage who do not want to smile. I will gladly suffer for his sake what I can.” And this is rightly called the Holy Spirit’s courage and pride. For it does not grow out of blood and flesh, as one sees in those who fall away from the gospel or deny it out of fear. Accordingly, the world is unable to have or give such courage. For its boldness depends on, and does not extend farther than, what it sees: possessions, favor, and great honor. Where the things end on which its boldness is based (as it all must end), there its courage also ends, and there is nothing left but utter despair. But Christians have nothing to rely on except Christ, their Lord and God, so that they let go of all things for his sake, saying: “Before I deny or forsake my Christ, be gone neck and belly, honor and possessions, house and farm, wife and child, and everything.” This is why such courage cannot be false or deceiving, but must be honest and certain. For it does not draw comfort from some temporal or perishable thing on earth, on account of which it would do and suffer this, but clings to the Lord Christ alone who was crucified and died for us.

 

St. Louis ed., 8:396-398.

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