Being a winning Christian also costs money. One place we will give it is in almsgiving. As with prayer and fasting, Jesus assumed His followers would give alms. Isn’t it strange that the very word almsgiving is so unfamiliar to most of us? Alms is an old English word meaning “charity” or “something freely given for the help of the poor.” Free and openhanded giving is essential if you are to grow to be like Christ our God.
Almsgiving is a private matter . We don’t boast about it, announce it, or drop subtle hints about how generous we’ve been with the needy. The Lord said regarding almsgiving, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matt. 6:3).
The world is full of opportunities to help unfortunate people. We don’t need a case study to determine whether a hungry person is worthy of a few dollars of our hard-earned money. Don’t be a tightwad. So the guy is a bum. Remember, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged” (Matt 7:2). Hungry bums need to eat. We are not so worthy ourselves, are we? If your compassion for the poor and needy doesn’t bring you to give, you won’t make much progress as a Christian. Saint Maximus the Confessor (c. 580—662), whose tongue was cut out and right hand cut off for speaking and writing in defense of the Faith, said of almsgiving:
He who gives alms in imitation of God does not discriminate between the wicked and the virtuous, the just and the unjust, when providing for men’s bodily needs. He gives equally to all according to their need., even though he prefers the virtuous man to the bad man because of the uprightness of his intention. (“First Century On Love,” no. 24, The Philokalia, Volume II)
— Fr. Jon Braun, Divine Energy, The Orthodox Path to Christian Victory