Red Wine and John Calvin

Most evenings, when it’s time for the local and national evening news, my wife turns on the TV and I turn to John Calvin. I pour a glass of my favorite red wine, retire to the office/study/spare bedroom, and open up a little green book.

John Calvin was one of the great leaders of the Reformation, a gifted preacher and brilliant theologian. Being an unsophisticated layman, I have not studied Calvin’s Institutes, but about a year ago I purchased Calvin’s Little Book on the Christian Life. Only five chapters long, Calvin’s book outlines what the Christian’s life should look like and why it matters. Calvin states that he loves brevity, and in this we have something in common.

In five brief chapters, Calvin deals with Christian Living, Self-Denial, Cross Bearing, Meditation on the Future, and “How the Present Life and Its Comforts Should Be Used”.This last chapter is most intriguing  because it deals with how we should use God’s good gifts while we live on this earth. Not only has God provided these as necessary , but even more he has made them for our pleasure and comfort. Here Calvin quotes from the Psalms:

“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock

and plants for man to cultivate,

that he may bring forth food from the earth

and wine to gladden the heart of man,

oil to make his face shine

and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

Psalms 104:14-15 (ESV)

Now, we have to use these gifts with care, in the way they were intended for our benefit. Two things we should not do. We should not use these gifts improperly or to excess, because that would cause us harm, and it would be sinful. On the other hand, we should not refuse these gifts when offered, because that would offend the giver; it would make us the judge of what is good or not. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do

do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) 

So every evening I avoid the drama and angst of the nightly news (of course I stay informed, but by reading) and instead immerse myself in scripture, good books, and my little green book on the Christian life. I enjoy God’s gift of wine and His Holy Word as they together gladden my heart.

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