“This self-love of ours so blinds us that we make the smallest faults in the world to be akin to heinous and unpardonable sins. We have this evil so deeply rooted in our hearts that if we are told of our duty, it only half moves us.
For this reason, St. Paul sets the example of God before us here. He has forgiven us in His only Son. And without delay He adds our Lord Jesus Christ, who spared not Himself when it was a question of our redemption and salvation.
What, then, can break down all hardness in us, what can mortify all our excessive passions, what can correct all our cruelty, bring low all our pride and loftiness and sweeten all our bitterness, is this: to contemplate what God has done towards us. He has so loved the world that He has given up His only Son to death for us (John 3:16)…
What has moved God to show Himself so merciful towards us? Nothing else but our wretchedness. Seeing then that He who is so good has nevertheless had compassion on our wretchedness in which we were plunged, what shall we do?
Ought we not to have much more compassion for one another, because we find in ourselves that which we pardon in our neighbors? God can find no infirmity in Himself, and how then can He be moved to forgive us? Even because He is the fountain of goodness and mercy.
But when I see what grieves me in my neighbor, if I examine myself well, I shall find what is similar there, and much more so. Ought not all these things to lead me to show compassion, if I did not forget myself too much?
The way then to make it easy for us to forgive many faults and to bear with many vices that may displease us is to cast our eyes upon the inestimable love which God has borne us in the person of His Son.”
–John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1974), 483-485. Calvin’s sermon text is Ephesians 4:31-5:2.