by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: —I Thessalonians 3:12
He who forbids the character of our brother to be bespattered with falsehood wills also that as far as the truth will permit, it be preserved immaculate. For although he only guards it against falsehood, he thereby suggests that it is committed to his charge. But this should be sufficient to induce us to defend the fair character of our neighbor—that God himself is its protection. Wherefore detraction is without doubt universally condemned.
This commandment also extends so far as to forbid us to affect a pleasantry tinctured with bitter sarcasms, severely lashing the faults of another under the appearance of sport; which is the practice of those who aim at the praise of raillery, to the prejudice of the modesty and feelings of others. For such wantonness sometimes fixes a lasting stigma on the characters of our brethren.
Now if we turn our eyes to the Legislator whose proper right it is to rule our ears and our minds, as much as our tongues, it will certainly appear that an eagerness to hear detraction, and an unreasonable inclination to unfavorable opinions respecting others, are equally prohibited. For it would be ridiculous for anyone to suppose that God hates slander in the tongue and does not reprobate malice in the heart.
Wherefore, if we possess the true fear and love of God, let us make it our study, that as far as is practicable and expedient, and consistent with charity, we devote neither our tongues nor our ears to vicious raillery, nor by chance listen to unfavorable suspicions; but that, putting fair constructions on every man's words and actions, we regulate our hearts, our ears, and our tongues, with a view to preserve the reputation of all around us. —Institutes, II, viii, xlvii
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.