In Chapter V of Book One of The Institutes, Calvin shows how God makes Himself plain to us in creation and in His care for us. And he also shows how we fail to see what’s clearly set before us.
It’s our tendency to receive gifts and audacious blessings from God without recognizing that the source was His hand.
“There are innumerable evidences both in heaven and on earth that declare His wonderful wisdom…..which thrust themselves upon the sight of even the most untutored and ignorant persons, so that they cannot open their eyes without being compelled to witness them” p.53
The stars, science and art reveal God at work around and within us. We just need to observe them in order to get a view of the excellence of the nature of God. God is revealing himself to us in creation and also in his care for us. We see evidence of Him all around us, above us, and in the blessings we receive.
God reveals himself to us, and our vision is dim and we fail to see who is pouring these gifts on us, or we misinterpret the revelation.
We’re proud and like to take credit and receive glory wherever we can. And so, just where we would best give praise to God where he blesses us, we choose instead to take the honor for ourselves.
“Here the foul ungratefulness of men is disclosed. They have within themselves a workshop graced with God’s un-numbered works, and at the same time, a storehouse overflowing with inestimable riches. They ought then to break forth into praises of him, but are actually puffed up and swelled with all the more pride.” p.55
Blessings are poured out on us in all sorts of forms. In the world around us, the stars above us, our ability to think and reason, and in material provision……and these are only a taste of the goodness we receive, and when the proper response would be humble thankfulness and Praise to God, we turn around and pat ourselves on the back and strut around as if the blessing was our own concoction.
As if your pretty face, your ability to work and earn money, your talent at anything, your brilliant children, your nice house, even the joy of being able to complete a thought…..as if these were not just marvellous gifts poured upon you by a loving Father. As if you got it all on your own. As if you deserve it.
“Shall we think ourselves the inventors of so many arts and useful things that God may be defrauded of his praise even thought experience sufficiently teaches that what we have has been unequally distributed among us from another source?” p57
I think this may be the only place where Barry Switzer and John Calvin will ever be mentioned in the same breath, but while I was reading this section of The Institutes, I was reminded of my favorite Switzer quote:
“Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.”