John Calvin on helping others

“We should not regard what a man is and what he deserves but we should go higher—that it is God who has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together. He has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing for one another. The man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should deface himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens.” John Calvin from Corpus Reformatorium

Calvin’s point here is simple, yet profound. We are all human. We all bear the image of our Creator. When we see others in need we should help. It makes no difference who they are, what they do, what they believe, who they associate with, how they live their lives, etc. All we need to see when we look at those in need is our common humanity and the image of God in which we all share. In other words, we should see ourselves in the faces of those in need. If we see that much, then we have what we need to love them as we love ourselves. And, if we will not help, then we might as well not be human. As Calvin puts it, “God…has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together.”



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