Blessed is he who gives according to the commandment; for he is guiltless. Woe to him who receives; for, if a man receives having need, he is guiltless; but he who has no need shall give satisfaction why and wherefore he received; and being put in confinement he shall be examined concerning the deeds he has done, and he shall not come out from there until he has given back the last farthing. Yes, as touching this also it is said; Let your alms sweat into your hands, until you will have learnt to whom to give.
(from the Didache - http://www.presenttruthmag.com/Judgment/80.html)
I keep a little bit of cash in my wallet just for giving every once in a while. I love this what the Didache says about not letting my alms out of my hand until I know where it needs to go. . . .talking about following in His footsteps and being a good steward.
Thank you for bringing this passage of the Didache to my attention. Perhaps I should be grateful since it would bring my struggle to give without hesitancy to an end (I wrote about this here, back in July). However, it is difficult to give up on a life long struggle such that I have no love for this passage and I have some doubts about it.
First, it doesn't jive with the Gospel of Luke, 6.27-6.31:
"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone
who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. "
Second, it appears to allow one to place escape clauses in Matthew 25.41-25.43 (e.g., "for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, but that is OK because you thought/assumed ...."). This thought kept me up the evening that you posted this Didache passage. I do not feel competent to comment further on this.
I did investigate the problematic passage in the Didache (Didache 1.6). The apparent consensus is that it was derived from a free floating variation of Sirach 12.1 (If you do good, know for whom you are doing it, and your kindness will have its effect.) with theories on how that variation came about.
However, a somewhat recent study, "To Give or Not to Give? Deciphering the Saying of Didache 1.6" (S.L. Bridge; J. Early Christian Studies, 1997; 5: 555-568), proposes that it is not from Sirach and the implied contradiction of the passage (both within the Didache and with the Gospels) resulted from a misinterpretation of the Greek. A proper translation of Didache 1.6 should read as follows:
“Let your almsgiving (bring) sweat into your hands, until you know to whom you give.”
A proper interpretation of this text should be:
"Let your almsgiving bring sweat to your hands, until you know that it is to God to whom you are giving."
By the way, I find your blog helpful and worthwhile.