John Calvin on the Pursuit of Success

John Calvin on the Pursuit of Success

How do we as Christians battle against the sinful pursuit of success, wealth and power that the world pursues?

Therefore, to avoid similar entanglements, the course which Christian men must follow is this: first, they must not long for, or hope for, or think of any kind of prosperity apart from the blessing of God; on it they must cast themselves, and there safely and confidently recline.

How, then, can the Christian rightly pursue success?

Therefore, if we believe that all prosperous and desirable success depends entirely on the blessing of God, and that when it is wanting all kinds of misery and calamity await us, it follows that we should not eagerly contend for riches and honours, trusting to our own dexterity and assiduity, or leaning on the favour of men, or confiding in any empty imagination of fortune; but should always have respect to the Lord, that under his auspices we may be conducted to whatever lot he has provided for us.

How should we as Christians think about our lack of success?

Lastly, if our success is not equal to our wish and hope, we shall, however, be kept from impatience and detestation of our condition, whatever it be, knowing that so to feel were to murmur against God, at whose pleasure riches and poverty, contempt and honours, are dispensed.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.9

Josh Etter is the Director of Communications at Desiring God.