Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our responsibilities

Calvin's lawyerly self came out in his writings today.  He used words like "due prudence," "deliberations," and "into agreement" in the first couple of sentences.  It is because of his training in the law, that he is such an eloquent debater and defender of truth.  It also enables him to recognize what the arguments against him will be.

He quotes Proverbs 16:9, "Man's heart plans his way, but the Lord will direct his steps."  He explains it by stating, "This means that we are not at all hindered by God's eternal decrees either from looking ahead for ourselves or from putting all our affairs in order, but always in submission to his will."  We should not be lazy, nor refrain from taking care of ourselves, or planning for the future just because God is in control.  Just the opposite, we should work hard, take care of ourselves, and plan for the future, but we should do it in a way pleasing to God.  Later Calvin writes, "Now it is very clear what our duty is: thus, if the Lord has committed to us the protection of our life, our duty is to protect it; if he offers helps, to use them; if he forewarns us of dangers, not to plunge headlong; if he makes remedies available, not to neglect them." 

This reminds me of the story of the man who lived in an area getting ready to flood.  The weathermen came on television and warned everyone in the area that the floods were coming, but the man remained because God would take care of him.  The government instituted an evacuation for the area, but the man remained because God would take care of him.  The waters began to rise.  Another man in a large truck offered to get him to higher ground, but the man remained because God would take care of him.  The waters continued to rise.  By now he was having to sit on the roof of his house.  A rescue boat came by and offered to take him to dry land, but the man remained because God would take care of him.  The waters continued to rise.  A helicopter flew overhead and offered him a ladder to take him to safety, but the man remained because God would take care of him.  Finally the waters overcame the man and he drowned.  When he got to the pearly gates, he asked St. Peter why God didn't ever come to rescue him.  Peter replied, "What are you complaining about?  He sent you warnings from weathermen and the government.  Then he sent you a truck, boat, and helicopter but you refused them all!" 

What about the evil deeds that we commit?  Does God cause us to sin in order that we may serve him?  After all Calvin's arguments about God being in control of all things and must ordain all happenings, some might be concerned that it is God causing us to sin.  Calvin responds this way.  "But do we do evil things to the end that we may serve him?  Yet he by no means commands us to do them; rather we rush headlong without thinking what he requires, but so raging in our unbridled list that we deliberately strive against him.  And in this way we serve his ordinance by doing evil, for so great and boundless is his wisdom that he knows right well how to use evil instruments to do good."  How comforting is this?  God does not cause evil nor does he cause us to sin, but he is so wise that he is able to use our evil to accomplish his purposes! 

One final quote for today from Calvin.  This to me sums up our hope in the providence of God.  "As far as men are concerned, whether they are good or evil, the heart of the Christian will know that their plans, wills, efforts, and abilities are under God's hand; that it is within his choice to bend them whither he pleases and to constrain them whenever he pleases."

Tomorrows reading: 1.17.7-1.7.10

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