Not found in the Old Testament, but repeatedly in the New. The Mosaic legislation ( Leviticus 25:35 ; Deuteronomy 15:7 ) tended to promote a spirit of charity, and to prevent the occurrence of destitution among the people. Such passages as these, Psalms 41:1 ; 112:9 ; Proverbs 14:31 ; Isaiah 10:2 ; Amos 2:7 ; Jeremiah 5:28 ; Ezekiel 22:29 , would also naturally foster the same benevolent spirit.
In the time of our Lord begging was common ( Mark 10:46 ; Acts 3:2 ). The Pharisees were very ostentatious in their almsgivings ( Matthew 6:2 ). The spirit by which the Christian ought to be actuated in this duty is set forth in 1 John 3:17 . A regard to the state of the poor and needy is enjoined as a Christian duty ( Luke 3:11 ; 6:30 ; Matthew 6:1 ; Acts 9:36 ; Acts 10:2 Acts 10:4 ), a duty which was not neglected by the early Christians ( Luke 14:13 ; Acts 20:35 ; Galatians 2:10 ; Romans 15:25-27 ; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 ). They cared not only for the poor among themselves, but contributed also to the necessities of those at a distance ( Acts 11:29 ; 24:17 ; 2 co. 9:12 ). Our Lord and his attendants showed an example also in this ( John 13:29 ).
In modern times the "poor-laws" have introduced an element which modifies considerably the form in which we may discharge this Christian duty.
Acts and deeds of mercy.
But when thou doest ALMS, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine ALMS may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. ( Matthew 6:3-4 )
The duty of alms-giving, especially in kind, consisting chiefly in portions to be left designedly from produce of the field, the vineyard and the oliveyard, ( Leviticus 19:9 Leviticus 19:10 ; 23:22 ; 15:11 ; 24:19 ; 26:2-13 ; Ruth 2:2 ) is strictly enjoined by the law. Every third year also, ( 14:28 ) each proprietor was directed to share the tithe of his produce with "the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow." The theological estimate of alms-giving among the Jews is indicated in the following passages: ( Job 31:17 ; Proverbs 10:2 ; 11:4 ; Esther 9:22 ; Psalms 112:9 ; Acts 9:36 ) the case of Dorcas; ( Acts 10:2 ) of Cornelius; to which may be added Tobit 4:10,11; 14:10,11, and Ecclus. 3:30; 40:24. The Pharisees were zealous in almsgiving, but too ostentatious their mode of performance, for which our Lord finds fault with them. ( Matthew 6:2 ) The duty of relieving the poor was not neglected by the Christians. ( Matthew 6:1-4 ; Luke 14:13 ; Acts 20:35 ; Galatians 2:10 ) Regular proportionate giving was expected. ( Acts 11:30 ; Romans 15:25-27 ; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 )