Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Giving

Early Christian Quotes on Giving




(1st Century)



"Give to everybody who begs from you, and ask for nothing in return." The Father wants his own gifts to be universally shared. Happy is the man who gives as the commandment bids him, for he is guiltless! But the man who receives needs to be careful! If he receives because he is in need, he will be guiltless. But if he is not in need, he will have to stand trial and answer for why he received it and for what purpose. He will be thrown into prison and have his action investigated, and "he will not get out until he has paid back the last cent." Indeed, there is a further saying that relates to this: "Let your donation stay with you until you know who to give it to."




(1st Century)



Do not be one who holds his hand out to take, but shuts it when it comes to giving. If your labor has brought you earnings, pay a ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give, and do not give with a bad attitude, for you will discover who He is that pays you back a reward with a good attitude. Do not turn your back on the needy, but share everything with your brother and call nothing your own. For if you have what is eternal in common, how much more should you have what is fleeting!




(1st Century)



If a traveler arrives, help him all you can. But he must not stay with you for more than two days, or, if necessary, three. If he wants to settle with you and is an artisan; he must work for his living. If, however, he has no trade, use your judgment in taking steps for him to live with you as a Christian without being idle. If he refuses to work at all, he is taking advantage of your charity Christ. You must be on your guard against such people.




(1st Century)



So take all the first fruits of wine and harvest and of cattle and sheep and give these first fruits to the prophets. For they are your high priests. If, however, you have no prophet, give them to the poor.



Barnabas’ Epistle

(1st Century)

Chapter 19:


Do not be ready to stretch out your hands to take, while you pull them in when it’s time to give…You should not hesitate to give, nor grumble when you give. "Give to everyone who asks you," and you will know who is the good Giver of the reward.



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 3, Chapter 6:


[On why certain stones are being shaped to fit into the building of the Tower, which represents the Church] For as a round stone cannot become square unless portions are cut off and thrown away, so also those who are rich in this world cannot be useful to the Lord unless their riches be cut down.



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 3, Chapter 9:


Pay attention, you who bask in and enjoy your wealth, to prevent those who are needy from groaning, because their groans may reach to the Lord, and you will be shut out with all your goods beyond the gate of the tower [Church].



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Commandment 2:


The angel said, “From the rewards of your labors, which God gives you, give to all the needy in simplicity, not hesitating over who you are to give or not to give to. Give to all, for God wants His gifts shared among all. Those who receive will give an account to God why and for what they have received. For the afflicted who receive will not be judged harshly, but they who receive on false pretenses 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 over he should give to and who he should not give to. If accomplished in simplicity, this service is glorious with God.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 1:


The angel said, "You know that you who are the servants of God live in a foreign land; for your true city is far away from this one. If, then, you know your city, why do you own lands here? Why do you make expensive preparations and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings? He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own.


“Oh, foolish and unstable and miserable man! Don’t you understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? For the lord of this city will say, 'I do not want you to live in my city; leave this city, because you do not obey my laws.' Therefore, although you have fields and houses and many other things, when he casts you out, what will you do with your land and house and other possessions that you have gathered for yourself? For the lord of this country justly says to you, 'Either obey my laws or depart from my dominion.'


“What, then, do you intend to do, having a law in your own city, about your lands and the rest of your possessions? You must altogether deny your law and walk according to the law of this city. See, it will hurt you to deny your law; for if you want to return to your city, you will not be received because you have denied your city's law. You will be excluded from it.


“So, be careful; as one living in a foreign land, make no further preparations for yourself more than what is sufficient; and be ready for the time when the master of this city will come to cast you out for disobeying his law. Be ready to leave his city and to depart to your own and to obey your own law in great joy, without being hindered by anyone.


“Be careful, you who serve the Lord, and have Him in your heart so that you do the works of God, remembering His commandments and promises He promised. Believe that He will make them happen if His commandments are observed.


“Therefore, instead of lands, buy afflicted souls, as each one is able. Visit widows and orphans; do not overlook them, and spend your wealth and all your preparations, which you received from the Lord, on such lands and houses. For this is why the Master made you rich: so that you could perform these services for Him. And it is much better to purchase such lands and possessions and houses as you will find in your own city when you come to live in it.


“This is a noble and sacred way of living, not joined with sorrow or fear, but joy. Do not practice the lifestyle of the heathen or nonbeliever, for it is harmful to you who are the servants of God. But practice the lifestyle of your own, in which you can rejoice, and do not corrupt nor touch what is another's nor envy it, for it is an evil thing to envy and lust for the goods of other men; but do your own work, and you will be saved."



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 2:


Blessed are they who have riches and understand that they are from the Lord. For they who are of that mind will be able to do some good.



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 6, Chapter 1-2:


And the angel and I came to a certain plain, and he showed me a young man, a shepherd, clothed in a suit of yellow garments. He was herding many sheep, and these sheep were feeding luxuriously and frolicking and happily skipping here and there. The shepherd himself was happy because of his flock. The appearance of the shepherd was joyous, and he was running about among his flock. And I saw other sheep frolicking and feasting in one place, but not leaping about.


And the angel said to me, "Do you see this shepherd?"


"I see him, sir," I said.


He said, "This is the angel of luxury and deceit. He wears out the souls of the servants of God and distorts the truth, deceiving them with wicked desires, through which they will die; for they forget the commandments of the living God and walk in deceits and empty luxuries; and the angel ruins them, some being brought to death, others to corruption."


I said to him, "Sir, I do not know the meaning of these words, 'to death, and to corruption.'”


“Listen,” he said. “The sheep you saw that were merry and leaping about are those that have torn themselves away from God forever. They have given themselves over to luxuries and deceits of this world. Among them, there is no return to life through repentance because they have added to their other sins, and blasphemed the name of the Lord. Such men are appointed to death. And the sheep you saw not leaping, but feeding in one place, are they who have delivered themselves over to luxury and deceit, but have committed no blasphemy against the Lord. These have been brainwashed from the truth. Among them, there is the hope of repentance, by which it is possible to live. Corruption, then, has a hope of a kind of renewal, but death has everlasting ruin.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 9, Chapter 30:


When the Lord saw the mind of these persons, that they were born good and could be good, He ordered their riches to be cut down, not to be taken away forever, so that they might be able to do some good with what was left.



2 Clement

(Early to Mid-2nd Century)



Giving as repentance from sin is good. Fasting is better than prayer, and charitable giving is better than both for "charity covers a multitude of sins," and prayer out of a good conscience delivers from death. Blessed is everyone who will be found complete in these, for charitable giving lightens the burden of sin.



The Epistle of the Apostles

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 46:


If any man who is not rich and possesses a small livelihood gives to the poor and needy, men will call him a humanitarian and philanthropist.



Tertullian’s Apology

(Late 2nd Century)

Chapter 39, Paragraph 1:


Though we have our treasure chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, like a religion that has its price.


On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation, but only if it be his pleasure and only if he be able, for there is no requirement; all is voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. For they are not taken and spent on feasts and drinking and eating out, but it is to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to their house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines or banished to the islands or shut up in the prisons for nothing but their loyalty to the cause of God’s Church, they are cared for as a result of their confession.


One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.


Our feast explains itself by its name. The Greeks call it agape, i.e., unconditional love. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of loyalty is gain, since with the good things of the feast, we benefit the needy; not as it is with you. Do parasites aspire to the glory of satisfying their corrupt desires, selling themselves for a belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment?


But as it is with God Himself, a special respect is shown to the lowly.



Sentences of Sextus

(Early 3rd Century)



(328) Do not let an ungrateful man cause you to stop doing good.


(330) You will use great character if you give to the needy willingly.


(331) Persuade a senseless brother not to be senseless; if he is mad, protect him.


(338) Not only should you not hold an opinion that does not benefit the needy, but also do not listen to it.


(339) He who gives something without respect to the person he’s giving it to commits an outrage.


(340) If you take on the guardianship of orphans, you will be the father of many children, and you will be beloved of God.


(371) The love of man is the beginning of godliness.


(372) The truth of God is in he who takes care of men while praying for all of them. .


(373/374) It is God`s business to save whom He wants; on the other hand, it is the business of the devout man to beg God to save everyone.


(377/378) It is better for man to be without anything than to have many things while not giving to the needy; so also you, if you do not give to others but pray to God, He will not give to you.


(379) If you, from your whole heart, give your bread to the hungry, the gift is small, but the willingness is great with God.


(382) God does not need anything, but he rejoices over those who give to the needy.



Commodianus’ Instructions

(Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 71:


If your brother is weak—I speak of the poor man—do not visit him empty-handed. Do good under God; pay your obedience by your money. Then he will be restored; or if he dies, he will at least be comforted before he dieas. He has nothing to pay you, but the Founder and Author of the world will repay you on his behalf.


Or if it should displease you to go to the poor man, always hateful, send money, and something, he may recover himself. And, similarly, if your poor sister lies on a sick-bed, let your maidservant bring to her food. God, Himself cries out, Break your bread to the needy. There is no need to visit with words, but with benefits. It is wicked that your brother should be sick through want of food. Do not satisfy him with words. He needs meat and drink. Look upon such assuredly weakened, who are not able to act for themselves. Give to them at once. I pledge my word that fourfold will be given to you by God.



Cyprian’s On the Unity of the Church

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 26:


Then, they used to sell houses and estates, hoping they would lay up for themselves treasures in heaven. They presented to the apostles the price of them to be distributed for the poor to use. But now we do not even give the tenths from our estate, and while our Lord bids us sell, we rather buy and increase our store. So has the power of faith dwindled among us; thus has the strength of believers grown weak.



Cyprian’s On the Lapsed

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 6, 11-12:


[As to why God allowed a recent period of persecution:] Each one desired to increase his estate. He was forgetful of what believers had either done before in the times of the apostles or should always do. They devoted themselves to the increase of their property with the unsatisfiable enthusiasm of greed….Not a few bishops who should furnish both warning and example to others, despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business. They forsook their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brothers and sisters were starving in the Church. They sought to possess money in hoards. They seized estates by crafty deceits. They increased their gains by exploiting others…


The truth, brothers, must not be disguised, nor must the matter and cause of our wound be concealed. A blind love of one’s own property has deceived many. They could not be prepared for, or at ease in, departing when their wealth bound them like a chain. Those were the chains to them that remained—those were the bonds by which both virtue was retarded and faith burdened and the spirit bound and the soul hindered. Those involved in earthly things will become booty and food for the serpent, which, according to God’s sentence, feeds upon the earth.


And therefore, the Lord, the teacher of good things, warning for the future time, says, “If you will be perfect, go, sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” If rich men did this, they would not perish by their riches; if they laid up treasure in heaven, they would not now have a domestic enemy and assailant. Heart and mind and feeling would be in heaven, if the treasure were in heaven; nor could he be overcome by the world if he had nothing in the world to be overcome by. He would follow the Lord unbound and free, as the apostles did, and many in the times of the apostles, and many who forsook both their livelihood and their relatives and clung to Christ with undivided ties.


But how can they follow Christ if they are held back by the chain of their wealth? Or how can those who are weighed down by earthly desires seek heaven and climb to lofty heights? They think that they possess, when they are instead possessed, as slaves of their profit, not lords with respect to their own money, but rather the bond-slaves of their money.



Cyprian’s On Works and Alms

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 2, 10, 13, 19:


The Holy Spirit speaks in the sacred Scriptures and says, “Sins are purged by giving to the poor and by faith.” This doesn’t refer to those sins which had been previously committed, for those are purged by the blood and sanctification of Christ. Moreover, He says, “As water extinguishes fire, so giving to the poor quenches sin.” It is also shown and proved that as in the washing of saving water, the fire of hell is extinguished, so by giving to the poor and works of righteousness, the flame of sins is subdued. In baptism, the remission of sins is granted once for all, and constant and ceaseless labor, following the likeness of baptism, once again gives the mercy of God…


You are afraid that you may not regain your estate if you begin to act liberally and get rid of it. Miserable man that you are, you do not know that while you fear your family property should fail you, life itself, and salvation, are failing. While you are afraid your wealth will be diminished, you do not see that you yourself are being diminished in that you are a lover of wealth more than of your own soul. While you selfishly fear you will lose your estate, you yourself are perishing for the sake of your estate…


Divide your returns with the Lord your God. Share your gains with Christ. Make Christ a partner with you in your earthly possessions, so He also may make you a fellow-heir with Him in His heavenly kingdom…


Give your wealth that you are saving up for your heirs to Him. Let Him be the guardian for your children. Let Him be their trustee, their protector, by His divine majesty, against all worldly injuries.


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