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Author Topic: Am I a sucker?  (Read 1072 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sauron
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« on: January 13, 2012, 04:14:42 PM »

My idea of a good podcast from AFR is The Arena, which is Sunday homilies, interviews, and other content from Fr. Josiah Trenham. (my ideas of not-so-good podcasts are for another thread) During one homily, he said that the answer to the question of, "should I help this person?" is always "yes". I took this message to heart, and I believe it is correct, so I have made a point to adopt it.

As things would have it, I was thinking upon this very concept two days ago when I was leaving the supermarket after an evening shopping trip. As I was unlocking my car, a disheveled man speaking broken English asked for some money. I talked with him and he said he needed to money to pay for lodgings. He then asked for $20. I asked, "$20?", but then thought of the directive of helping people, so I gave the man a $20 bill. Sometimes God doesn't tap you on the shoulder but uses a hammer.

Several weeks ago, I was doing Christmas shopping with my son when we stopped at a fast food restaurant to eat. While we were there, a wheelchair-bound man cruised around the dining room giving out cards saying he was deaf and that featured a pin for a $3 "donation". I have seen this before and based on my research, this appears to be a scam. But, I gave him $5 and told my son on the drive home (he's seven) that we don't know if it is a trick or not, so we should help just in case.

I was going to ask if I was a sucker for handing over the money so easily, but I think I figured out the answer in writing this. I guess it is the right way of things. If someone asks for help in this manner, I shouldn't ask if it is a trick or wonder if my "help" will be used the right way. I should give if my abilities permit.
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2012, 04:22:25 PM »

I've also wondered this. I'll help until I know that I am contributing to something bad. Case in point:

After Vespers a guy comes in looking for cash (not an uncommon thing where we're at). We didnt have any so he left. Afterwards, we were told that it was good we didnt have $$ because he uses the money for nefarious purposes (drugs) and to not give him money. However, other folks come in, and get money sometimes, and we dont ask questions.

I would not pry, but if you do find out he/she is using it for bad purposes, I think you would be ok. However, I now give the standard orthodox answer (I'm learning quick afterall):

Have you asked your priest?  laugh

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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 05:14:03 PM »

Practise goodness; and from the rewards of your labours, which God gives you, give to all the needy in simplicity, not hesitating as to whom you are to give or not to give. Give to all, for God wishes His gifts to be shared amongst all. They who receive, will render an account to God why and for what they have received. For the afflicted who receive will not be condemned, but they who receive on false pretences will suffer punishment. He, then, who gives is guiltless. For as he received from the Lord, so has he accomplished his service in simplicity, not hesitating as to whom he should give and to whom he should not give. This service, then, if accomplished in simplicity, is glorious with God.

That being said, we are also called to exercise a certain amount of stewardship over what we've been given. We are not personally capable of saving the world, and in some situations, not even capable of providing what is needed to properly handle the immediate problem at hand. And as mentioned above, given our limited resources, I personally would prefer not to put my resources will they will not be put to good use when they may be needed where they can actually accomplish something good.

But then again, the neighborhood where my band used to play at a few bars had a number of people who would ask for money, I'm pretty sure most of the time it was for alcohol or drugs or something along that line, but one night a little old lady asked me for some money and I gave my typical "I don't have any with me", a few days later I started wondering what a little old lady was doing in that particular neighborhood at that particular time of night wandering around on the street.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 05:42:19 PM by Melodist » Logged

And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 05:19:50 PM »

Forgive me replying on the 'faith' board as I am not Orthodox.

It's just that I often find myself in the same quandary. I'll even pray before or after for direction. At times I tell myself that what the money is used for is none of my affair. That my role is to be obedient to God, give out of love, and let God handle it from there. What the person does with it is not my place to judge. If however I feel it will be used for drugs, booze, or what not I will offer food but NOT money. Be prepared for negative reaction on that one unfortunately. Not usual but it has happened. In the case of the guy needing $20 for lodging I suppose we could even attempt securing that. To be honest though $20 is a little out of my comfort zone! lol
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2012, 05:53:56 PM »


If you "can" give, give.

The more you give, the more you will get.

So many saints gave away ALL they had to the poor.  I am certain they didn't wonder what the individuals would do with the money.  They were just happy to help them.

If you do give....give with a happy heart.  Don't begrudge or judge the person.  It's better that you not give if you will be giving it halfheartedly, angrily or because you feel coerced. 

Give joyfully.

If you don't have money to give, don't worry about it.  Honestly tell them you don't have money to spare, but that you will be praying for them....and move on.

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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2012, 06:14:40 PM »

Forgive me replying on the 'faith' board as I am not Orthodox.

It's just that I often find myself in the same quandary. I'll even pray before or after for direction. At times I tell myself that what the money is used for is none of my affair. That my role is to be obedient to God, give out of love, and let God handle it from there. What the person does with it is not my place to judge. If however I feel it will be used for drugs, booze, or what not I will offer food but NOT money. Be prepared for negative reaction on that one unfortunately. Not usual but it has happened. In the case of the guy needing $20 for lodging I suppose we could even attempt securing that. To be honest though $20 is a little out of my comfort zone! lol

I did think that it took a bit of moxie to ask for $20 right off the bat! I probably should have tried to find him a room (I live very near Disney World and there are many cheap motels near this grocery store).

While I would not like for the money to be used for some unsavory purpose, I think that is up to the person and God.

I did give joyfully, though. Can it be a coincidence that right as I was thinking of this lesson that someone would ask me for $20?
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2012, 09:26:45 PM »

Quote
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.   Smiley 
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2012, 10:35:02 PM »

I am reminded of the sermon on the Mount where Christ instructs us to give more to the man suing us than he asks. I put 5 gallons (roughly 16 USD) in a stranger's car today because he said he was near stranded. I helped in part because I have been in that situation before and know that some times people just genuinely get in a jam, and a little help can keep bad from becoming much worse.

My main concern is that I do things to win God's favor, and become entitled as if Christian Faith is a barter. Please Lord, forgive me of this...
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2012, 10:52:09 PM »

[  should have tried to find him a room (I live very near Disney World and there are many cheap motels near this grocery store).
 
While I would not like for the money to be used for some unsavory purpose, I think that is up to the person and God.

I did give joyfully, though. Can it be a coincidence that right as I was thinking of this lesson that someone would ask me for $20?

[/quote]

My daughter (19) and I have an inside joke about coincidence along those lines. I explained to her years ago that in my youth I would take a mathematical view to spiritual 'things' that mysteriously happened easily excusing them as 'odds are its just a coincidence'. After a lifetime of coincidence after coincidence it becomes difficult to excuse God's work as such. I'm not saying there is no such thing as coincidences but now when something spiritual happens in our life we smile and say to each other 'just a coincidence'  Wink

I think the quote Melodist shared is the True answer for me anyway. Not unlike the conclusion you yourself came to. To the extent that had I read before I posted I probably wouldn't have replied. (He posted as I was typing) Thanks for sharing Melodist.

By the by Sauron I'm in Florida too. Greetings from Homestead! (Between Miami and the Keys)  

P.S. By saying $20 is a little out of my comfort zone I meant can't really afford it! LOL Yes, it took a little moxie on his part and generousity on yours!

Peace & Grace
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2012, 11:15:37 PM »

My main concern is that I do things to win God's favor, and become entitled as if Christian Faith is a barter. Please Lord, forgive me of this...

To some extent don't we all? Perhaps I should only speak for myself? I'm with ya! By the grace of God we are able to recognize it though Smiley
 
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2012, 12:06:59 AM »

I love giving out $$ when i had enough, now i cant even if i wanted to.
I loved shocking people who ask for your change out side of a 7-11 and handing over 20bucks minus the amt for the soda i just bought, kinda makes my day.

I wont give a penny if i think the person is shady or running a scam for booz or drugs.

im a very good judge of people and most of the time i can tell if the $$ is going for good or for bad things.

where i live now for abt 10yrs there is this strange scam (?) going on. Maybe not a scam but they ask for $$ cause there car broke down or ran out of gas and they r heading to s Carolina. its so strange cause i can say this same story has been used on me at least 5-6 times that i remember. I never gave them anything cause all were shady peole and very pushy.

Giving is great, try giving if u can a substantial amt to someone you know needs it realy bad, but without them knowing it was you.
I few xmas ago a friend and i both put in 250 cash in an anvelop (500$) and sliped it under a neigbors door we new had lost her job and had three kids with xmas on the way. it was a kick to hear her tells us about the day when she found  a env with 500 under her door.

I like this cause you dont get all puffed up with giving cause no one will now its was you other then you, and ur friend if 2 people do it.
Also this king of giving hase no strings attached. I have been the reciever of $$ from others when i needed it and i can tell you it does not feel so good after cause now you r obligated to this person. maybe thats just me.

Oh well wish i still had $$ to give all the time.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2012, 10:42:27 AM »

You get what you give.
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2012, 12:11:23 PM »

"O man, be like the earth. Bear fruit like her and do not fall short of what mere inanimate matter can achieve. The earth bears crops not for her own benefit but for yours. You, on the other hand, when you give to the poor, are bearing fruit which you will gather in for yourself, since the reward for good deeds goes to those who perform them. Give to a hungry man, and what you give becomes yours, and indeed it returns to you with interest. Just as the wheat that falls on the ground falls there to the great profit of the one who sowed it, so the bread given to a hungry man will bring you great profit in the world to come. Let your husbandry be aimed at sowing this heavenly seed: as scripture says, Sow integrity for yourselves."
 
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« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2012, 12:35:35 PM »

we are called to help, its between that person and God how he spends the money. you were absolutely correct, IMHO.
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2012, 04:23:22 PM »

By the by Sauron I'm in Florida too. Greetings from Homestead! (Between Miami and the Keys)  

P.S. By saying $20 is a little out of my comfort zone I meant can't really afford it! LOL Yes, it took a little moxie on his part and generousity on yours!

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If I knew Floridians were ready this, I would have said I was coming out of Publix.  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2012, 05:40:09 PM »

So many saints gave away ALL they had to the poor.  I am certain they didn't wonder what the individuals would do with the money.  They were just happy to help them.


I hear people say this all the time when discussing giving money to individuals on the street. Most of the saints you are referring to lived in a time and a place where the majority of the poor were genuinely downtrodden. Although those people certainly still exist the bulk of homelessness here in the States is caused by drug/alcohol addiction. Giving these individuals money not only doesn't help, it actually exacerbates the problem.

There are lots of other things you can do that do genuinely help. As an example, here where I live there are no fewer than three religious rescue missions and one secular homeless shelter within two square miles of each other. There are three, free hot meals served every single day of the year. Donate your time and money to an organization that serves the homeless. Not only are you sure it's going to people who really need help your dollar goes so much further.

Another good practice is to carry a small supply of gift cards to local fast food restaurants. If someone tells you they need a meal you can hand them a gift card. If the individual is really looking for a meal they can get it without the possibility of feeding someone's drug habit.

To an extent I agree that what a person does with alms they are given is between them and God. That being said surely we do have some responsibility to try and make sure no more harm is done. That is why we should be careful and make sure the resources God has given us are being put to good use.

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« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2012, 06:15:26 PM »

Another good practice is to carry a small supply of gift cards to local fast food restaurants. If someone tells you they need a meal you can hand them a gift card. If the individual is really looking for a meal they can get it without the possibility of feeding someone's drug habit.

This is a good idea. One could also use gift cards for a grocery store.
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« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2012, 06:59:41 PM »

"Do not distinguish the worthy from the unworthy. Let everyone be equal to you for good deeds, so that you may be able to also attract the unworthy toward goodness, because through outside acts, the soul quickly learns to be reverent before God."- St. Isaac of Nineveh

I'd say that misaimed generosity is significantly preferable to greed.
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« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2012, 09:04:35 PM »

"Do not distinguish the worthy from the unworthy. Let everyone be equal to you for good deeds, so that you may be able to also attract the unworthy toward goodness, because through outside acts, the soul quickly learns to be reverent before God."- St. Isaac of Nineveh

I'd say that misaimed generosity is significantly preferable to greed.


Yes, but giving crack money to an addict is literally killing them. We have to be generous, kind, loving and selfless. In the world of modern drug addiction we just have to be smart about it.
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« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2012, 12:42:24 AM »

So many saints gave away ALL they had to the poor.  I am certain they didn't wonder what the individuals would do with the money.  They were just happy to help them.


I hear people say this all the time when discussing giving money to individuals on the street. Most of the saints you are referring to lived in a time and a place where the majority of the poor were genuinely downtrodden. Although those people certainly still exist the bulk of homelessness here in the States is caused by drug/alcohol addiction. Giving these individuals money not only doesn't help, it actually exacerbates the problem.

There are lots of other things you can do that do genuinely help. As an example, here where I live there are no fewer than three religious rescue missions and one secular homeless shelter within two square miles of each other. There are three, free hot meals served every single day of the year. Donate your time and money to an organization that serves the homeless. Not only are you sure it's going to people who really need help your dollar goes so much further.

Another good practice is to carry a small supply of gift cards to local fast food restaurants. If someone tells you they need a meal you can hand them a gift card. If the individual is really looking for a meal they can get it without the possibility of feeding someone's drug habit.

To an extent I agree that what a person does with alms they are given is between them and God. That being said surely we do have some responsibility to try and make sure no more harm is done. That is why we should be careful and make sure the resources God has given us are being put to good use.


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« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2012, 01:18:02 AM »

"Do not distinguish the worthy from the unworthy. Let everyone be equal to you for good deeds, so that you may be able to also attract the unworthy toward goodness, because through outside acts, the soul quickly learns to be reverent before God."- St. Isaac of Nineveh

I'd say that misaimed generosity is significantly preferable to greed.


Yes, but giving crack money to an addict is literally killing them. We have to be generous, kind, loving and selfless. In the world of modern drug addiction we just have to be smart about it.

Why do you have Ayn Rand in your sig? Are you sarcastically taking a stab at her?
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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2012, 03:41:04 PM »

Are you sarcastically taking a stab at her?

No I am not.
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« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2012, 04:09:48 PM »

My main concern is that I do things to win God's favor, and become entitled as if Christian Faith is a barter. Please Lord, forgive me of this...

To some extent don't we all? Perhaps I should only speak for myself? I'm with ya! By the grace of God we are able to recognize it though Smiley
 
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Perhaps this can be counted as storing up treasures in heaven?

As for the bum spending the money on booze or drugs, I tend not to worry about this.  If I'd kept the money myself I'd probably spend it on one of those things.  Who am I to judge him?   Wink

I figure, if you give to a bum you give to Christ.  When the Good Lord comes back I hope that he'll pay more attention to the $5 I gave a bum once than to the multitude of my sins.
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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2012, 05:17:44 PM »

By the by Sauron I'm in Florida too. Greetings from Homestead! (Between Miami and the Keys)  

P.S. By saying $20 is a little out of my comfort zone I meant can't really afford it! LOL Yes, it took a little moxie on his part and generousity on yours!

Peace & Grace

If I knew Floridians were ready this, I would have said I was coming out of Publix.  Grin

All it would have taken lol
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« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2012, 05:21:45 PM »


[/quote]
Perhaps this can be counted as storing up treasures in heaven?
[/quote]

An application for consideration to be sure!
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« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2012, 06:30:19 PM »

"Do not distinguish the worthy from the unworthy. Let everyone be equal to you for good deeds, so that you may be able to also attract the unworthy toward goodness, because through outside acts, the soul quickly learns to be reverent before God."- St. Isaac of Nineveh

I'd say that misaimed generosity is significantly preferable to greed.


Yes, but giving crack money to an addict is literally killing them. We have to be generous, kind, loving and selfless. In the world of modern drug addiction we just have to be smart about it.
Unless they have a pipe in hand, I can't really distinguish the crack addicts from the non-crack addicts. Granted, hard drug use is a huge problem among the homeless population, but I don't feel right judging based on a stereotype (even a statistically well-founded one) and withholding money based on that judgement.
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« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2012, 11:34:31 PM »

Perhaps this can be counted as storing up treasures in heaven?

As for the bum spending the money on booze or drugs, I tend not to worry about this.  If I'd kept the money myself I'd probably spend it on one of those things.  Who am I to judge him?   Wink


That type of flippant attitude towards alcoholism is not helpful and is quite frankly (along with the use of the word bum) offensive. Lots of people spend money on alcohol everyday with no ill effects. For the addict/alcoholic it is literally killing them. All you are doing in enabling them to stay in their pain.

I figure, if you give to a bum you give to Christ.  When the Good Lord comes back I hope that he'll pay more attention to the $5 I gave a bum once than to the multitude of my sins.

What if He pays attention to the fact that instead of going the extra mile and donating time/money to an organization that serves the homeless, or taking the time to purchase gift cards, you took the easy way out and gave the addict the money they used to buy the hit of heroin that killed them?
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« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2012, 11:37:19 PM »

"Do not distinguish the worthy from the unworthy. Let everyone be equal to you for good deeds, so that you may be able to also attract the unworthy toward goodness, because through outside acts, the soul quickly learns to be reverent before God."- St. Isaac of Nineveh

I'd say that misaimed generosity is significantly preferable to greed.


Yes, but giving crack money to an addict is literally killing them. We have to be generous, kind, loving and selfless. In the world of modern drug addiction we just have to be smart about it.
Unless they have a pipe in hand, I can't really distinguish the crack addicts from the non-crack addicts. Granted, hard drug use is a huge problem among the homeless population, but I don't feel right judging based on a stereotype (even a statistically well-founded one) and withholding money based on that judgement.


No one is suggesting you withhold the money. What I am suggesting is you take your judgment out of the equation entirely and either give the money to an organization that serves the homeless or do things such as buy gift cards or bus tokens to give out instead of just handing people money.

Take it from a recovering alcoholic and one who has worked with the homeless. The vast majority of those on the streets (at least in larger cities) asking for money are not spending the money on food. Handing them cash is not helping them. It is only enabling them to stay in their pain.
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Opus118
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« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2012, 12:55:19 PM »

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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.   Smiley 

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."

Source:  http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_early_christian_studies/v005/5.4bridge.pdf

By the way, I find your blog helpful and worthwhile.

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