Let Your Gift Sweat In Your Hands

“Let your gift sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give it.”

I opened The Didache (did-uh-kay) this morning for my reading. Reading from the first commandment which begins with Jesus’ commandments to love God and love our neighbor, the anonymous writer used about half of the paragraph to describe gifts. We receive gifts from God (and presumably others). If we are in need, use the gifts with gratitude. If you are not in need and fail to pass the gift on, you are guilty and must answer for your sin. “Let your gift sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give it.”

Remarkably, my book of the week is The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World by Lewis Hyde. I am only about half finished. Thus far he is exploring various types of gift giving in a variety of cultures throughout human history.

This is a tradition among many peoples and times. Yet, how rare in modern times.

Yet, it is an important teaching from the earliest of Christian teachers. The Didache was written most likely about the same time as the Gospels and used for teaching by most early teachers. Its author is anonymous, therefore (and could be male or female, by the way), so since it could not be traced back to a first generation apostle, it was not accepted into the Canon (New Testament). Still, it and The Shepherd of Hermas are important books for teaching discipleship.

In the context of the first commandment where this is found, the obvious intent is to pass along gifts we receive if we do not need them to someone who is in need. Hoarding has never been a Christian virtue. Sharing has.

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