A Life Worth Living Is Living for God

Life is precious but it is not absolute. We will all die someday, even though our governments give us assurance that through their decrees they will keep us safe from rampant sickness. This is not to say that reasonable precautions should not be taken but rather that we cannot ever allow such things to override what John Calvin calls “the reasons for living.”

He points this out from his commentary on John 7 in which passage we read that Jesus did not go to Judaea because he knew the Jews had intended to kill him (vs. 1). Later, however, Jesus did go up, though initially in secret (vs. 10). In this we see that though our Lord knew that he was destined to die at the hand of his enemies (something he predicted to his disciples multiple times), he was also cautious about what he did in order that his death would occur in the hour that the Father had appointed for him. Indeed, in this same chapter we read that Jesus did not continue to attend upon the feast of tabernacles in private (for he was not a private person). Rather, he went into the temple and taught the people. It is apparent from his own words that his desire to please his heavenly Father demanded what would, ordinarily, be prudently avoided: “I am from him, and he hath sent me” (vs. 29).

Christians rightly want to keep themselves and others safe from harm. But we must also take into account what we may be sacrificing when doing so. This is especially so when it becomes an all consuming desire i.e. the only thing that we must consider or the only principle to live by. Which is to say, in short, that in terms of the will of the God of heaven and earth, we do not simply live but live for him. So Calvin writes:

“In encountering dangers, it is not our business to inquire what God has determined respecting us in his decree, but what he commands and enjoins on us, what our office requires and demands, and what is the proper method of regulating our life. Besides, while Christ avoided dangers, he did not turn aside a hairsbreadth from the course of duty; for to what purpose would life be maintained and defended, but that we may serve the Lord? We ought always to take care, therefore, that we do not, for the sake of life, lose the reasons for living.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVII. “Commentary on the Gospel According to John.” Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1981, page 282.

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