1997-02-17 - Stolen Water
The following was written by someone else, but I thought it was worthy of
passing along as food for thought. As Proverbs 9: 17 says, "Stolen water
is sweet …"
Civil goodness is not enough.
We will not practice real self-denial unless we fulfill all the duties of
love. These are not fulfilled by him who merely in an external way performs
his services without omitting even one, but by him who acts from a sincere
principle of love. For it may happen that a man discharges his duties to
the best of his abilities, but if his heart is not in them, he falls far
from the mark. There are people who are known to be very liberal, yet they
never give without scolding, or pride, or even insolence. We are sunk to
such a depth of calamity in this awful age that scarcely any alms are given,
at least by the majority of men, without haughtiness and contempt. The corruption
of our times is so enormous that it would not have been tolerated by the
Christians certainly ought to display more than a smiling face, a cheerful
mood, and polite language when they practice charity. First of all, Christians
ought to imagine themselves in the place of the person who needs their help,
and they ought to sympathize with him as though they themselves were suffering;
they ought to show real mercy and humaneness and offer their assistance as
readily as if it were for themselves. Heartfelt pity will banish arrogance
and reproach, and will prevent contempt and domineering over the poor and
the needy. When a member of our physical body is diseased, and the whole
body has to labor to restore it to health, we do not despise this diseased
member, or hold it under obligation, because it needs all this assistance.
The mutual help which the different parts of the body offer to each other
is by the law of nature considered to be no favor, but a matter of course,
which it would be cruel to refuse. Therefore, if a man has performed one
service, he should not reckon himself discharged of all other duties. A rich
man, for instance, who has given away part of his property and leaves the
burdens for others, cannot consider himself to be excused. Every man, however
important he may me, should realize that he is a debtor to his neighbor,
and that love demands that he give to the limit of his ability.
This was written over 400 years ago by a man named John Calvin.
Soli Deo Gloria,