by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. —Psalm 41:1
Certainly it is an error which is by far too common among men, to look upon those who are oppressed with afflictions as condemned and reprobate. As, on the one hand, the most of men, judging of the favor of God from an uncertain and transitory state of prosperity, applaud the rich, and those upon whom as they say fortune smiles; so, on the other hand, they act contemptuously towards the wretched and miserable; and foolishly imagine that God hates them, because he does not exercise so much forbearance towards them as he does towards the reprobate. The error of which we speak, namely that of judging wrongly and wickedly, is one which has prevailed in all ages of the world.
The Scriptures in many places plainly and distinctly declare that God, for various reasons, tries the faithful by adversities, at one time to train them to patience, at another to subdue the sinful affections of the flesh, at another to cleanse and as it were purify them from the remaining desires of the flesh which still dwell within them; sometimes to humble them, sometimes to make them an example to others, and at other times to stir them up to the contemplation of the divine life.
For the most part, indeed, we often speak rashly and indiscriminately concerning others, and, so to speak, plunge even into the lowest abyss those who labor under affiiction. To restrain such a rash and unbridled spirit, David says that they are blessed who do not suffer themselves, by speaking at random, to judge harshly of their neighbors; but, discerning aright the affiictions by which they are visited, mitigate, by the wisdom of the Spirit, the severe and unjust judgments to which we are naturally so prone. As to ourselves, being admonished by this testimony of the Holy Spirit, let us learn to guard against a too hasty judgment. We must therefore judge prudently of our brethren who are in affiiction; that is to say, we must hope well of their salvation, lest, if we condemn them unmercifully before the time, this unjust severity in the end shall fall upon our own heads. —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.