Calvin: Gold Booklet of the True Christian Life

V. We should seek the good of other believers.

1. How extremely difficult it is for you dutifully to seek the advantage of your neighbor, unless you quit all selfish considerations and almost forget yourself.

How can you perform the duties which Paul teaches to be works of love, unless you renounce yourself and devote your-self wholly to others? "Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; Love vaunts not itself; Love is not puffed up; love does not behave itself unseemly; love seeks not her own; love is not easily provoked"; and so on.

2. If this be all that is demanded, that we do not seek our own, yet we must not exert little pressure in our own nature, which is so strongly inclined to love self exclusively and does not easily permit us to neglect self and our own affairs.

Let us rather seek the profit of others, and even voluntarily give up our rights for the sake of others.

Scripture urges and warns us that whatever favors we may have obtained from the Lord, we have received them as a trust on condition that they should be applied to the common benefit of the church.

The legitimate use of all the Lordís favors is liberally and kindly to share them with others.

You cannot imagine a more certain rule or a more powerful suggestion than this, that all the blessings we enjoy are divine deposits which we have received on this condition that we distribute them to others.

3. According to Scripture our personal talents may be even compared to the powers of the members of the human body.
No member of the body has its power for itself, nor applies it to its own private use, but only for the profit of the others; and equally, no member of the church receives any advantage from his own activity, but through his cooperation with the whole body of believers.

Whatever ability a faithful Christian may possess, he ought to possess it for his fellow believers, and he ought to make his own interest subservient to the well-being of the church in all sincerity.

Let this be our rule for goodwill and helpfulness, that whenever we are able to assist others we should behave as stewards who must someday give an account of ourselves, and let us remember that the distribution of profits must be determined by the law of love.

For we must not first of all try to promote the good of others by seeking our own, but we must prefer the profit of others.

4. The law of love does not only pertain to the sizable profits, but from ancient days God has commanded us to remember it in the small kindnesses of life.

God commanded his people Israel to offer him the first-fruits of the corn, as a solemn token that it was unlawful for them to enjoy any blessings not previously dedicated to him.

If the gifts of God are not part of our sanctified life unless we dedicate them with our own hands to their Author, we must be guilty of sinful abuse if we leave such a dedication out.

5. But in vain we would attempt to enrich the Lord by a distribution of our talents and gifts.
Since our goodness cannot reach the Lord, as the Psalmist says, we must exercise it toward "the saints who are on the earth."
Alms are compared in the Scriptures to sacred offerings to show us that the exercises of charity under the gospel have taken the place of the sacrifices under the law of the Old Testament (1 Cor. 13:4-8; Ps. 16:2-3).