21 MARCH 365 Days with Calvin

Praiseworthy Liberality

He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth forever; his horn shall be exalted with honour. Psalm 112:9

suggested further reading: Mark 12:38–44

The righteous will never lose the fruit and the reward of their liberality, the psalmist says. First, they will be honored for their dispersing. They do not give sparingly and grudgingly, unlike some who imagine that they fulfill their duty to the poor by doling out a small pittance to them. The righteous give as liberally as necessity requires and their means allow; for a liberal heart does not necessarily mean that the person possesses a large portion of the wealth of this world. The prophet’s point is that the righteous are never parsimonious but rather are always ready to give to others as they are able.

Next he says they give to the poor, meaning they do not offer charity at random but with prudence and discretion to meet the needs of the poor. We are aware that unnecessary and superfluous expenditures for the sake of ostentation are frequently lauded by the world; consequently, a larger quantity of the good things of life is squandered away in luxury and ambition than is dispensed in prudent charity. The prophet instructs us that truly praiseworthy liberality does not consist of distributing our goods without any regard to the objects upon whom they are conferred and the purposes to which they are applied, but in relieving the needs of the truly needy and expending money on proper and lawful things.

This passage is quoted by Paul (2 Cor. 9:9), in which he says it is easy for God to bless us with plenty so that we may exercise our bounty freely, deliberately, and impartially. This accords best with the design of the prophet.

for meditation: We can easily fall into a sort of a mechanical habit of giving, lacking the spirit the psalmist talks about here. But we should always have our eyes open for opportunities to give liberally, spontaneously, and quietly to people who are truly in need. Can you think of any such opportunities today?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 99). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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