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John Calvin
A life well-composed

It’s sufficient that we recognize our calling from the Lord to be the principle and foundation of good works in all our affairs. The one who doesn’t frame his actions with reference to his calling will never keep the right course in his duties. He will perhaps occasionally do things that are praiseworthy in appearance, but his actions, whatever value they might have before men, will be rejected before God’s throne. Nor will there be consistency in his actions in the various spheres of his life.

Consequently, the one who directs himself toward the goal of observing God’s calling will have a life well composed. Free from rash impulses, he won’t attempt more than his calling warrants. He will understand that he shouldn’t overstep his boundaries. He who lives in obscurity will live an ordinary life without complaint, so that he won’t be found guilty of deserting his divinely appointed post. Indeed, in the midst of troubles, hardships, annoyances, and other burdens, he will find great relief when he remembers God is his guide in all these matters. The magistrate will more gladly attend to his duties. The father will more gladly commit himself to his responsibilities. Each person, in whatever his station in life, will endure and overcome troubles, inconveniences, disappointments, and anxieties, convinced that his burden has been placed upon him by God. Great consolation will follow from all of this. For every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant–most valuable in the eyes of our Lord.

–John Calvin in A Little Book on the Christian Life, edited and translated by Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2017), 125-126.

John Calvin
Worthy causes of suffering

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)

And thus Christian exhortations to endure suffering are of this sort: Whether we suffer poverty, exile, imprisonment, contempt, sickness, childlessness, or any such thing, let us remember that nothing happens apart from God’s pleasure and providence, and that God himself does nothing that isn’t perfectly in order. What then? Don’t our innumerable and frequent faults deserve more severe and weighty punishments that those that He, according to His mercy, has placed on us? Isn’t it fair that our flesh be tamed and made familiar with the yoke in order to keep it from running wild with lust according to its natural disposition? Are God’s justice and truth not worthy causes to suffer for?

–John Calvin in A Little Book on the Christian Life, edited and translated by Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2017), 83-84.

John Calvin
We are God’s

The law of the Lord is the best and most suitable instruction for the proper ordering of our lives. Nevertheless, it seemed good to our heavenly teacher to conform us by an even more precise rule than what’s given in the precepts of the law. This is the sum of that rule: It is the duty of believers to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. And in this consists genuine worship of Him. From this rule is derived the exhortation that believers not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of their minds, so that by testing they may discern what is the will of God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)

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If we are not our own but the Lord’s, it’s clear what errors we must flee, and what we must direct our whole lives toward. We are not our own; therefore, neither our reason nor our will should dominate our plans and actions. We are not our own; therefore, let us not make the gratification of our flesh our end. We are not our own; therefore, as much as possible, let us forget ourselves and our own interests.

Rather, we are God’s. Therefore, let us live and die to Him. We are God’s. Therefore, let His wisdom and His will govern all our actions. We are God’s. Therefore, let us—in every way in all our lives—run to Him as our only proper end. How far has he progressed who’s been taught that he is not his own—who’s taken rule and dominion away from his own reason and entrusted them to God. For the plague of submitting to our own rule leads us straight to ruin, but the surest way to safety is neither to know nor to want anything on our own, but simply to follow the leading of the Lord.

–John Calvin in A Little Book on the Christian Life, edited and translated by Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2017), 21-23.