by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and ... whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. —Matthew 5:21, 22
The end of this precept is that since God has connected mankind together in a kind of unity, every man ought to consider himself as charged with the safety of all. In short, then, all violence and injustice, and every kind of mischief, which may injure the body of our neighbor, are forbidden to us.
And therefore we are enjoined, if it be in our power, to assist in protecting the lives of our neighbors; to exert ourselves with fidelity for this purpose; to procure those things which conduce to their tranquillity; to be vigilant in shielding them from injuries; and in cases of danger to afford them our assistance.
If we remember that this is the language of the Divine Legislator, we should consider at the same time that he intends this rule to govern the soul. For it were ridiculous that he who beholds the thoughts of the heart and principally insists on them, should content himself with forming only the body to true righteousness.
Mental homicide, therefore, is likewise prohibited, and an internal disposition to preserve the life of our brother is commanded in this law.
Now the Scripture states two reasons on which this precept is founded; the first, that man is the image of God; the second, that he is our own flesh. Wherefore unless we would violate the image of God, we ought to hold the personal safety of our neighbor inviolably sacred; and unless we would divest ourselves of humanity, we ought to cherish him as our own flesh.
These two characters, which are inseparable from the nature of man, God requires us to consider as motives to our exertions for his security; so that we may reverence his image impressed on him, and show an affectionate regard for our own flesh. —Commentaries
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.