Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let Your Alms Sweat In Your Hands

From Chapter 1 of the Didache:
" it has been said, Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give."


I'm guessing for the early church alms giving was different than putting money in a plate that gets passed around on Sunday morning. We may sweat over how much to give, but do we sweat over who to give it too?

Related passage - Matt 6:1-4 (NIV)
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."


Akimi said...

Interesting. What is the did ache?

Jonathan said...

Hi Akimi, thanks for reading and commenting. I never know who is reading my out there thoughts. :)

The Didache is small book dated 50 - 120 AD. It was likely written earlier than half of our New Testament. It is one of many books not included in our canon (selection of books for the Bible). I don't know why it wasn't considered.

I've enjoyed reading through a number of such books. They shouldn't be regarded as highly as Scripture. But may likely be more useful than many books written today.



Chris said...

The Didache was basically a church manual. It was not included in the cannon of scripture, because it was never intended as scripture. It would be kind of like including an early liturgy in the Bible (while St. Paul makes reference to early hymns, creeds, sayings and prayers that people reading his letters would have recognized, and he even affirms them as right, good, and worthy, those things weren't included in the cannon of scripture either.) This is part of the reason that Holy Tradition is so important. It, in many cases, faithfully preserves these other things. Also, remember that what we refer to as "The Bible" or "The Scriptures" are not what the early church would have recognized as a single thing. "The Bible" as we know it is a collection of many books consisting of sacred Jewish texts and writings of the Apostles (or their close associates). So, just like you would have a bunch of books on your library shelf, someone (a very rich someone, or a monastery or church or library) back then could have had a bunch of books on their shelves, and they would have divided them into categories like "these are the ones that were written by the apostles and their close associates" (aka "The Bible" to us) and "these are church manuals" (Didache, divine liturgies, etc) and "these are good books" (St Athanasius On the Incarnation) (and then, of course, maybe even "these are for fun" (The Odyssey) and "these are for historical reference" (Eusebius's Church History)"). "The Bible" literally means "books" after all, but when we say it, what we really mean is "Books written by the Apostles (or close associates) and collected into a single volume".

There's a good explanation for why the Didache wasn't included in the cannon of scripture here:

MrLuke said...

Hi, I know this is an old post, but I came across it as top result on Google while searching things to do with the Didache. You may enjoy my new book, which is a compilation of early texts, broken down into daily, bite-sized chunks for reading. The Didache is the first chapter :)

Take a look if you're interested: https://fortydays.co.uk/amazonUS

Andy Sturt said...

Thank you for sharing a very interesting insight. A few weeks ago, I was read Proverbs 3:27 and found that different versions translate it differently. In some versions it reads as don't hold back good from those who "need it," in others it has "deserve it." Your Didache reference reminded me of this and gave me a new insight. Here's what I'm thinking: In our giving, we need to consider who most deserves our help. For example, if two people are in equal need, but one is in that situation because of poor judgement while the other is there due to circumstances over which he or she had no control, it is the latter not the former who "deserves" our alms. Money (and possibly even assistance) given to a fool is probably money wasted. That's not to say we should say to the proverbial fool, "You've made your bed and now you must sleep in it," but in choosing where to help, we should choose the individual in whose life that help will produce the best fruit.