Galatians 6:10 "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Institutes Book 3, Chapter 7, Section 6, Part a
"The Lord Commands all men without exception to do good (Heb 13:16.) Yet the great part of them are most unworthy if they be judged by their own merit. But here Scripture helps in the best way when it teaches that we are not to consider what men merit of themselves but to look upon the image of God in all men, to which we owe all honor and love. However it is among members of the household of faith that this same image is more carefully to be noted, in so far as it has been renewed and restored through the Spirit of Christ (Gal 6:10).
"Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse to help him. Say, "He is a stranger"...say, "He is contemptible and worthless"...say, "I owe him nothing" - but God has put him in his own place in order that you may recognize toward him the many and great benefits with which God has bound you to himself.
"Say he does not deserve your least effort for his sake; but the image of God, which recommends him to you, is worthy of your giving yourself and all your possession."
Here Calvin makes a very profound theological contribution. He grounds the basis for our attitude towards other humans in the Biblical teaching that we are all made in God's image. Each human, by virtue of being God's creature, made in the image of the Creator, is worthy of our respect and compassion. This is the basis for Christian charity towards both our fellow Christians and our non-Christian neighbors. As a being made in God's image, our neighbor is worthy of "all our possessions."
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest among theologians in the doctrine of the Image of God. Many have seen the ways that this Biblical doctrine could have altered the way Christians have thought about people of other races or other religions. (Calvin was about 450 years ahead of his time.) How different our lives would be if we were able to consider each person we meet as someone made in God's image! How different church history would have been if Christians had more consistently applied this teaching to all of their neighbors!
Calvin tells us here that we don't need to pretend that all people are worthy in themselves. We can be honest and still love them extravagantly for the sake of God's Image. We don't need to pretend that all belief systems are equally valid in order to value people for the sake of the Image of God. We don't need to be discouraged when our generosity does produce the desired impact in people we help. We can help with abandon for the sake of God's Image reflected in another human being. (Matt)