by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. —Job 31:21, 22
Let us bear well in mind that if the poor pass before us, and we see their need, and keep our purses shut, so as not to help them, it is a sure sign that we are like wild beasts, and that there is not one spark of pity in us.
We ourselves shall some day feel the same lack of mercy when God sends us afflictions; and although we shall be miserable, no man will be moved by it, but men shall look on us with disdain, and we shall be pushed aside and left utterly destitute. For it is the measure and wages which God is accustomed to give to all who are hardhearted toward their neighbors; according as it is said, that he who is merciless shall have judgment without mercy.
God thinks it is not enough that we should merely abstain from evildoing and from hurting our neighbors, and from taking away other men's substance and goods. It is true that it is already a kind of virtue if we can protest that we have clean hands, and are not given to thievery, deceit, and extortion.
But yet for all that let us not think that we are completely acquitted. For if God has given us means to help such as have need, and we do not do it, we are blameworthy. And why? Because we have taken away God's goods and put them to another use than he intended.
God gives us his goods to the intent that we should relieve our poor brothers with them. Now if on the contrary we are so straightlaced that not a penny goes out of our purses, nor a morsel of bread from our tables, what shall become of us? Is this not defrauding them whom God has ordained to have part of our substance, and robbing God in the thing that he has put into our hands?
So let us learn to be more merciful. And although no man can give us a definite assignment, as if to say, "You should give so much," yet let every man exert himself, and consider his own ability, knowing well that when we have done all that can do, yet we are not discharged. —Sermons
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.