“I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.”
From Calvin’s commentary on Isa. 58:
Uprightness and righteousness are divided into two parts;
first, that we should injure nobody; and
secondly, that we should bestow our wealth and abundance on the poor and needy.
And these two ought to be joined together; for it is not enough to abstain from acts of injustice, if thou refuse thy assistance to the needy; nor will it be of much avail to render thine aid to the needy, if at the same time thou rob some of that which thou bestowest on others. Thou must not relieve thy neighbors by plunder or theft.; and if thou hast committed any act of injustice, or cruelty, or extortion, thou must not, by a pretended compensation, call on God to receive a share of the plunder. These two parts, therefore, must be held together, provided only that we have our love of our neighbor approved and accepted by God.
By commanding them to “break bread to the hungry, he intended to take away every excuse from covetous and greedy men, who allege that they have a right to keep possession of that which is their own. “This is mine, and therefore I may keep it for myself. Why should I make common property of that which God has given me?“ He replies, “It is indeed thine, but on this condition, that thou share it with the hungry and thirsty, not that thou eat it thyself alone.” And indeed this is the dictate of common sense, that the hungry are deprived of their just right, if their hunger is not relieved. That sad spectacle extorts compassion even from the cruel and barbarous. He next enumerates various kinds, which commonly bend hearts of iron to συμπάθειαν fellow feeling or compassion; that the savage disposition of those who are not moved by feeling for a brother’s poverty and necessity may be the less excusable.[end quote]
On II Corinthians 8:15:
“…[H]e has enjoined upon us frugality and temperance, and has forbidden, that anyone should go to excess, taking advantage of his abundance. Let those, then, that have riches, whether they have been left by inheritance, or procured by industry and efforts, consider that their abundance was not intended to be laid out in intemperance or excess, but in relieving the necessities of the brethren.“[end quote]
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1.27
Further reading: John Calvin: a man of compassion