Saturday, July 10, 2010

Calvin on Treasures in Heaven

I came across several good quotes from the French Reformer John Calvin in his commentary on Matthew 6:19-24.  In particular, his discussion on treasures in heaven in contrast to treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21) is insightful.  Furthermore, his words regarding our slavery to our own lust for more is well worth our read:

Matthew 6:19 - "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." 

This deadly plague reigns everywhere throughout the world.  Men are grown mad with an insatiable desire of gain.  Christ charges them with folly, in collecting wealth with great care, and then giving up their happiness to moths and to rust, or exposing it as a prey to thieves.  What is more unreasonable than to place their property, where it may be carried off by men? Covetous men, indeed, take no thought of this.  They lock up their riches in well-secured chests, but cannot prevent them from being exposed to thieves or to moths.  They are blind and destitute of sound judgment, who give themselves so much toil and uneasiness in amassing wealth, which is liable to putrefaction, or robbery, or a thousand other accidents: particularly, when God allows us a place in heaven for laying up a treasure, and kindly invites us to enjoy riches which never perish. -332

Matthew 6:21 - "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 

By this statement Christ proves that they are unhappy men who have their treasures laid up on the earth: b/c their happiness is uncertain and of short duration.  Covetous men cannot be prevented from breathing in their hearts a wish for heaven: but Christ lays down an opposite principle, that, wherever men imagine the greatest happiness to be, there they are surrounded and confined.  Hence it follows, that they who desire to be happy in the world renounce heaven. -333

Matthew 6:24 - "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth." 

For the greater part of men are wont to flatter themselves with a deceitful pretense, when they imagine, that it is possible for them to be divided b/t God and their own lusts.  Christ affirms that it is impossible for any man to obey God, and, at the same time, to obey his own flesh . . . [W]here riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost his authority.  True, it is not impossible that those who are rich shall serve God, but whoever gives himself up as a slave to riches must abandon the service of God: for covetousness makes us the slaves of the devil. -337

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