Friday, October 06, 2006

Depart from Evil, and do Good.

I’m still reading Calvin’s Commentary on Psalm 37, one of my favorite Psalms. One thing that shines in Calvin’s commentary is his understanding of the human condition. For example, verse 27, simply states “Depart from evil, and do good,” which on the surface seems like an easy statement; don’t do evil, but do good. Okay, that doesn’t sound hard, but wait…

…And here is the genius of Calvin because he immediately goes to the heart of the problem, because our nature is corrupted by sin, a simple state such as v. 27 is at odds with our (sinful) nature. We can't do good continually, and the good we do is severally tainted. Furthermore, we continually reject God’s blessings, which in and of itself is an evil act. Yet, we want to be happy regardless of the consequences of our actions!

Calvin highlights the duplicity of our ‘good’ acts, you know how we can do good for one person, yet be evil to the next, and it not bother us in the least. Not only does it not bother us to treat someone with evil, but we justify it by saying, “Hey, they deserve it!” or “They wronged me first, so I’m treating them just like they treated me!” This last statement has my name written all over it. I personally went through a horrible, painful divorce. So for the longest time I would justify evil acts toward her by saying “She deserved that!” Yet the Bible doesn’t let me off the hook for the way I treat her because she wronged me. Nope, I am to do good and depart from evil regardless of the actions of others against me. Oouch! This is some tough stuff!

During my roughest times I literally read and re-read Romans 12, telling myself that God is in control and He will take care of her. Oh, but revenge would have been so sweet! But that was not my responsibility; it was God’s. So I had to do good and depart from evil, which meant being amicable towards her, even though I was angry, sad and hurt.

(The beauty of Christianity is this: even though I will constantly struggle with doing good and departing from evil, I know that before God I am justified through the righteousness of Christ. I don't have to worry about my eternal state because I'm trusting in Christ. I'm not 'working' to obtain salvation in any way! -- I just had to point that out.)

Calvin goes on to discuss a lot more than what I mentioned, but it struck me that such a simple statement could be so hard to follow without the grace of God.

To God be the Glory