The Shepherd of Hermas is very early 2nd century Christian literature. In its day it was so influential that it was considered as canonical scripture by some of the earliest bishops such as Irenaeus.
By the 2nd and 3rd century it was included in the New Testament in the important Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Claromontanus. The author writes in allegory style and it’s organized around five visions, twelve mandates, and ten parables. Though it didn’t make the final cut of the New Testament, “The Shepherd” still has much to say to Christians of the 21st century.
This early Christian passes on good advice about Christian charity. Bottom line: simply give whenever you see a need. Just give and be grateful to God that you are in the position to do so. We should not worry whether the person really deserves our generosity or if he or she is taking advantage of our generosity. Our duty is to share, give; and God will take care of us and the person who receives our gift.
Hermas writes in Commandment 2, “Practice goodness, and from the rewards God gives you for your labors, give to all the needy in simplicity. Don’t hesitate about whether you should give or not give to someone. Give to all, for God wants His gifts to be shared among all. The one who receives will render an account to God of what they have received and why. The afflicted who have received will not be condemned, but the ones who receive on false pretense will be punished.
So the one who gives is guiltless. For as he received from the Lord, in the same way he has done his service in simplicity, not hesitating about whether he should give or not give to someone. Whoever gives help in simplicity will live to God.” Amen