Plough My Account Sign Out
My Account
    View Cart

    Subtotal: $

    colorful apartment building

    Rules for a Holy Life

    God sees into your heart and loves you. Love your neighbor just as God does.

    By Johann Arndt

    October 8, 2023

    If thou even canst not live up to that degree of holiness which the word of God requires, and which thou thyself desirest, yet thou must never cease ardently to wish for it; for such holy breathings are always acceptable to God. God does not so much regard the outward action of a man, as the heart whence the action proceeds. But after all, never neglect to crucify thy flesh, and never permit it to rule over thee.

    If thou canst not bear thy cross with joy and cheerfulness, yet take it at least with patience and humility, and acquiesce calmly in the divine will and providence. For, truly, the will of God is always good; nor does it intend anything but thy benefit and salvation. Whatsoever, therefore, God shall be pleased to appoint thee in his wisdom, do thou gratefully accept it, and be either joyful or sorrowful, poor or rich, high or low, vile or excellent, as He orders thy lot. Let this saying always be in thy mind: “Thus it seemeth good unto God, and so it must needs be expedient and useful for me also. His will, not mine, be done.” Let not that, therefore, which pleases God, displease thee; but rather rejoice that all things are ordered according to His pleasure and thy salvation. Remember that “the Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” (Ps. 145:17) Hence it is but just that the will of God should be done, because it is always good and profitable; and that thy own will should be subdued and unaccomplished, because it is always evil and hurtful.

    colorful apartment building

    Photograph by Jan Jakub Nanista.

    Study to overcome and to pacify thine enemies, by bestowing upon them tokens of love and kindness. No man will ever be reconciled by wrath, or revenge, or returning evil for evil, for victory consists in virtue, not in vice. And as one devil does not drive out another, so it cannot be expected that one evil should be subdued by another; or that enmity against thee should be extinguished by affronts and provocations offered by thee. A man that is full of sores and bruises, is not likely to be healed by the addition of more blows; and if he be so mad as to beat and to cut himself, he is to be pitied, and to be treated with the greater kindness and lenity. In like manner, if a man be full of spiritual distemper, and of hatred, he is to be handled with the more love and gentleness; if, perhaps, by such lenient means as these, he may be softened into a better temper. Consider the method which God himself uses for overcoming our natural obstinacy. Does he not conquer our malice with his goodness, and our wrath with his love? And does he not invite us to repentance by many endearing marks of love and benignity? (Rom. 2:4) This method is prescribed by Saint Paul: “Be not,” says he, “overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21) This is victory indeed.

    When thou observest that God has adorned thy neighbor with gifts above thee, take heed not to envy him on that account; but rather rejoice and give thanks to God for the same. Consider, that since all true believers make up together but one body, it must needs follow, that the beauty of every member is communicated to the whole body, and to every member thereof. On the other hand, when thou perceivest the misery of thy neighbor, lament over it as if it were thine own; considering that the condition of all men is equally subject to evil, and that misery and affliction are the lot of mankind. Christ hath also set thee here an example. And, truly, whoever does not commiserate and sympathize with the misery of his neighbor, let him pretend to be what he may, he is no living member of the body of Christ. For did not Christ look upon our misery as his own, and by compassionating our deplorable state, deliver us from all our miseries? This mutual love and sympathy, are inculcated by Saint Paul: “Bear ye one another's burdens,” says he, “and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)

    Consider all men as being frail and imperfect, but none as more frail and imperfect than thyself; for before God, all men stand equally guilty, and there is no difference. We have all sinned, and have thereby been deprived of the image of God, and of all the glory which attended it. (Rom. 3:23) How great a sinner, therefore, thy neighbor may be, never fondly persuade thyself, that thou art better before God. Remember this warning of the apostle: “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12) He that makes himself the lowest of all men, is in the fairest way of being preserved, by the grace of God, unto salvation. And certain it is, that thou standest no less in need of the grace and mercy of God, than the greatest of sinners. Where there is a great measure of humility, there is also a great measure of grace. Wherefore Saint Paul accounted himself the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15); and it was in this order he obtained mercy, and had so much long-suffering bestowed upon him. And in another place he declares that he will glory in nothing but in “his infirmities, that the power of Christ might rest upon him.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

    Source: Johann Arndt, True Christianity, trans. A. W. Boehm, ed. C. F. Schaeffer (Philadelphia: Smith, English & Co, 1868), 281–288.

    Contributed By JohannArndt Johann Arndt

    Johann Arndt (1555–1621) was a German theologian best known for writing True Christianity, which was published in 1612.

    Learn More
    You have ${x} free ${w} remaining. This is your last free article this month. We hope you've enjoyed your free articles. This article is reserved for subscribers.

      Already a subscriber? Sign in

    Try 3 months of unlimited access. Start your FREE TRIAL today. Cancel anytime.

    Start free trial now