Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897)/Alms

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Alms, 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; 10:2,4), 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; 2co. 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.