Among the various types of giving, alms (or charitable deeds) stand out as significant to Jesus and our Heavenly Father. Continuing with the sermon on the mount, Jesus explains in Matthew 6.
Matthew 6:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Alms was strictly for poor people. And Jesus has made a direct connection between heavenly rewards and charitable deeds.
Jesus preached the sermon on the mount out in the open because most of the people who followed him were not allowed access to the temple. And Jesus began to teach them new things.
By the time of Jesus, the religious leaders had become hypocrites due to their compromising political affiliations with Rome. They were a privileged class and grew wealthy from that status.
Four types of giving are outlined in the Old Testament–tithe, offering, gifts, and alms. Tithe was for the sustenance of the Levites who administered at the temple. Offering was above and beyond the tithe and expressed additional appreciation for God’s blessing. The widow who gave two mites gave an offering that represented her entire living. Gifts are freely given in the form of favor or items bestowed on someone who may or may not be poor. Alms are specifically designated for the poor.
Alms is an expression of a righteous life. One of the things Jesus sees in a righteous person is to secretly give to the poor. For great is your reward in heaven.