by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. —John 13:34, 35
"That you love one another." Brotherly love is indeed extended to strangers, for we are all of the same flesh, and are all created after the image of God; but because the image of God shines more brightly in those who have been regenerated, it is proper that the bond of love among the disciples of Christ should be far more close. In God brotherly love seeks its cause, from him it has its root, and to him it is directed.
Thus in proportion as it perceives any man to be a child of God, it embraces him with the greater warmth and affection. Besides, the mutual exercise of love cannot exist but in those who are guided by the same Spirit. It is the highest degree of brotherly love, therefore, that is here described by Christ; but we ought to believe, on the other hand, that as the goodness of God extends to the whole world, so we ought to love all, even those who hate us.
"By this all men will know." Since Christ lays down this mark for distinguishing between his disciples and strangers, they who lay aside brotherly love and adopt new and invented modes of worship labor in vain. Nor is it superfluous that Christ dwells so largely on this subject. There is no greater agreement between the love of ourselves and the love of our neighbor than there is between fire and water.
Self-love keeps all our senses bound in such a manner that brotherly love is altogether banished. And yet we think that we fully discharge our duty, because Satan has many enticements to deceive us that we may not perceive our faults. Whoever, then, desires to be truly a disciple of Christ and to be acknowledged by God, let him form and direct his whole life to love the brethren, and let him pursue this object with diligence. —Commentaries
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.