Friday, July 2, 2010

Trust in the Lord

The past few sections have been about denying ourselves and supporting others.  Today's reading has the same "denying ourselves" theme, but the focus is that by denying ourselves we can submit our will to God.  Calvin writes, "Scripture calls us to resign ourselves and all our possessions to the Lord's will, and to yield to him the desires of our hearts to be tamed and subjugated."  Our natural tendency is to seek our own fortune.  That is what our American culture has taught us - work hard and achieve more than anyone else.  How many times have we heard someone say "the sky is the limit" in regards to our careers, fortune, etc.?  Calvin says about people who are striving for their own success, "We can see how artfully they strive - to the point of weariness - to obtain the goal of their ambition or avarice, while, on the other hand, avoiding poverty and a lowly condition."  Those who are focused on selfish ambition have their hearts in the wrong place.  A godly man should, "neither desire or hope for, nor contemplate, any other way of prospering than by the Lord's blessing."  Calvin tells us that if we submit our will to God, He will bless us with happiness and contentment in all situations.

Therefore, we should seek out God's will in what we do.  We should strive to do what is pleasing to Him.  "Thus it will first come to pass that we shall not dash out to seize upon riches and usurp honors through wickedness and by stratagems and evil arts, or greed, to the injury of our neighbors; but pursue only those enterprises which do not lead us away from innocence."  Although wicked people may gain temporal worldly possessions, it is the godly people who receive the Lord's blessing.  Those who hope for the Lord's blessing will never seek riches by wicked means.  And when they do receive gifts from God, they credit the Lord as the source for them.  David set an example for us as he credited God for the gifts that he received.

Psalm 131

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
 1 LORD, my heart is not haughty,
         Nor my eyes lofty.
         Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
         Nor with things too profound for me.
 2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
         Like a weaned child with his mother;
         Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
 3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
         From this time forth and forever.
By denying ourselves and submitting ourselves to the Lord, we are able to more easily bear adversity in our lives.  It does not matter what calamity befalls us, as long as we recognize that the Lord is over all things and we are willing to accept what His plans are for us, we are able to bear it.  "In short, whatever happens, because he will know it ordained of God, he will undergo it with a peaceful and grateful mind so as not obstinately to resist the command of him into whose power he once for all surrendered himself and his every possession."  Calvin rightly has a hard time with people attributing things to fortune.  We have seen this before in his writings.  Let us be careful not to say that we were "fortunate" or had "good fortune" because it is not some blind, random chance that causes things in our life, but God alone.  "God's hand alone is the judge and governor of fortune, good or bad."

Tomorrow's reading: 3.8.1-3.8.6

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