- If you give alms, it is a spiritual hazard. [Thomas 14]
If you give alms, you have given poison, making people dependent on charity.
[Tao Te Ching 53]
The Taoist prohibition against one of the major signs of being a good
religious person is echoed in the words of Jesus here. If not for charity,
ascetic renuncient monks could not follow their quest, which is an important
part of Buddhist/Jainist/Hindu traditions. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
in the West preach alms as being good works. Jesus echoes the thoughts of
Lao Tsu here (not the only parallel by a long shot) in even going so far as
to say that you are endangering the very spirit of the person that you give
charity to. The very Essene culture (according to Josephus) is based on
alms. One could travel from town to town without a purse, without spare
shoes, without food, and EXPECT charity to take care of you. It has been
synopsical with Christianity ala Salvation Army that alms is a good thing.
And yet here we have Jesus taking yet another radical stance.