Trusting friendly neighbors (Sir 22:23-22:26)

“Gain the trust of your neighbor

In his poverty.

Thus you may rejoice with him

In his prosperity.

Stand by him

In time of his distress.

Thus you may share with him

In his inheritance.

One should not always despise

Restricted circumstances.

One should not admire

A rich person who is stupid.

The vapor of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

The smoke of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

Thus insults precede bloodshed.

I am not ashamed

To shelter a friend.

I will not hide from him.

But if harm should come to me

Because of him,

Whoever hears of it

Will beware of him.”

Friendship happens in good times as well as bad times. If you trust your neighbor in his poverty, you can rejoice with him in his prosperity. If you stand by him in his distress, you can share with him in his good times. On the other hand, you should not admire a rich stupid person or despise those in poverty. Where there is a smell and smoke, there surely will be a fire. So too, insults often precede bloodshed. So be careful! Sirach was not ashamed to shelter a friend. However, if any harm came to him because of that friend, this would be a reminder to others to be wary about what his friend had done. Even this friendship is a little shaky, so that you should always be on guard against false friends.

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