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Entries in John Calvin (3)


What is piety?

Piety is not a popular word. When we call someone pious, we often use the term as a pejorative one rather than a complimentary one. As with many words, it's a word which has been used and abused to its apparent demise.

In the first book of Calvin's Institutes, he refers to piety in a positive way. In Book 1, Chapter 2, paragraph 1, he emphasizes that piety is something we ought to learn:

For this sense of the powers of God is for us a fit teacher of piety, from which religion is born. I call "piety" that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him -- they will never yeld him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.

"Reverence joined with the love of God." There is that word, "reverence." It's one I've been thinking about lately, especially as seen in the frequently used Titus 2:3: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good."

What does it mean for an older woman to be reverent? Calvin links reverence with piety, which in turn is linked to love of God. It certainly must begin with love of God.

These days, women like to avoid appearing old. We want to be cool. We want to look young. We love it when people mistake us for being younger than we are. We want to do everything we can to hold back time. The plate in my ankle reminds me that breaking a bone at 51 was not as easy to recover from as it would had I been 15 when I broke it. It would be nice to stop the aging of my bones, but if it meant keeping a 15 year old mind, I'd say "no thanks."

Do we want to be known as someone with piety? Can we ever recover the good use of that word, or will it along with other good words, gather dust?


Restoring chastisements

I've been reading the book Lifting Up Our Hearts daily. I share one each Sunday, but the one I read yesterday will be a favourite, I'm sure. it's entitled "Judge and Father." 

We don't like the word "judge" but we do like to think of God as our father. He is a judge, though. In this prayer, I liked what Calvin says here:

O grant that Thy chastisements, by which
Thou wouldest restore us to a sound mind,
may not prove ruinous to us,
but so influence us by Thy Spirit within, that we
being really humbled, may acknowledge Thee
as our judge and father.

We know the chastisements of God will come. We know that he only chastises those whom he calls sons. Our response is to pray that those chastisements would not be "ruinous" to us, but rather influence us. We can pray we won't fall.

I have noticed that in this book so far, Calvin prays often to be humbled. That's a good thing to pray for.


Lifting Up Our Hearts 

Hold Fast the Reconciliation - Hosea 3:1-5

Grant, Almighty God,
that as Thou often does justly hide Thy face from us,
so that on every side we see nothing but evidences
of Thy dreadful judgmet ---

O grant that we, with minds raised above the scene of
this world, may at the same time cherish the hope that
Thou constantly settest before us, so that we may feel
fully persuaded that we are loved by Thee, however
severely Thou mayest chastise us.

And may this consolation so support and sustain our
souls, that, patiently enduring whatever chastisements
Thou mayest lay upon us, we may ever hold fast the
reconciliation that Thou has promised to us in Christ
Thy Son. Amen