The Sum Of The Christian Life -Section 8-10

Self-Denial toward God: Devotion to His Will!
The Principal of Self-Denial in Our Relation to God

Let us consider more fully the principal part of self-denial: that which has reference to God. Many things have already been said with regard to it that it is superfluous to repeat. Therefore, it will be sufficient to view it as forming us to equanimity and endurance.

 First, then, in seeking the convenience or tranquility of the present life, Scripture calls us to resign ourselves and all we have to the disposal of the Lord, to give Him the affections of our heart, that He may tame and subdue them. We have a frenzied desire, an infinite eagerness, to pursue wealth and honor, intrigue for power, accumulate riches, and collect all those frivolities that seem conducive to luxury and splendor. On the other hand, we have a remarkable dread, a remarkable hatred of poverty, mean birth, and a humble condition! [We] feel the strongest desire to guard against them. Hence, in regard to those who frame their life after their own counsel, we see how restless they are in mind: how many plans they try, to what fa-tigues they submit, in order that they may gain what avarice or ambition desires, or, on the other hand, escape poverty and meanness.

To avoid similar entanglements, the course that Christian men must follow is this: first, they must not long for, hope for, or think of any kind of prosperity apart from the blessing of God. On it, they must cast themselves and there safely and confidently recline. For, however much the carnal mind may seem sufficient for itself when in the pursuit of honor or wealth, [however much] it depends on its own industry and zeal or is aided by the favor of men, it is certain that all this is nothing, and that neither intellect nor labor will be of the least avail except in so far as the Lord prospers both. On the contrary, His blessing alone makes a way through all obstacles and brings everything to a joyful and favorable issue. Secondly, though without this blessing we may be able to acquire some degree of fame and opulence (as we daily see wicked men loaded with honors and riches), yet since those on whom the curse of God lies do not enjoy the least particle of true happiness, whatever we obtain without His blessing must turn out ill. Surely, men ought not to desire what adds to their misery.

Institutes of the Christian Religion

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“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11