Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
In the school of affliction God gradually teaches us the lessons we need to learn. Fruit is not gathered all at once; there must be tie for it to ripen. Do not become discouraged if God does not teach you all at once. He lets in light by degrees, and teaches his children now a little, and then a little; some this week, and more next; some by this affliction, and more by the next. If God has not taught you as much as another, do not say he has not taught you at all. Though God’s teaching is powerful, it does not immediately put the soul into an immutable evenness of spirit freed from all insurrections and disturbances. Such a frame is only the privilege of the glorified state. David had his sinkings, and Job his impatient fits. We have heard of the patience of Job, yea and of his impatience too! The taught of God may be moved, but not removed; they may fall, but not fall away – fearfully, but not finally; terribly, but not totally. Are we not aware of the whisperings of corruption in our members? Do we not rise with indignation and become displeased with the opposition we find in our nature? Is there not a regular need in prayer to spend our temptations before the Lord? Is there not a need to pray our hearts into a better frame? It was said of Luther that when he found a distemper upon his spirit, he would keep praying until he had his heart into the frame he prayed for. By God’s instruction we are able to maintain opposition against the evil we find in our own spirits (Gal. 5:17). The life of a believer is a warfare (Eph. 6:12). As God teaches us, the soul gradually gains ground against its fleshly opposition. Prayer brings in God, and God gives strength to take back lost ground. We are comforted that all will be done in God’s time. I am not perfect, but I will be perfect (Phil. 1:6).
In this classic devotional, John Calvin urges readers to apply the Christian life in a balanced way to mind, heart, and hand. Rather than focusing on contemplative otherworldliness, the book stresses the importance of a devotedly active Christian life. In style and spirit, this book is much like Augustine’s Confessions, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. However, its intense practicality sets it apart, making it easily accessible for any reader seeking to carry out Christian values in everyday life. Chapter themes include obedience, self-denial, the significance of the cross, and how we should live our lives today.