“Refrain from strife.
Your sins will be fewer.
The hot tempered kindle strife.
The sinner disrupts friendships.
The sinner sows discord
Among those who are at peace.
In proportion to the fuel,
So will the fire burn.
In proportion to the obstinacy,
So will strife increase.
In proportion to a person’s strength,
So will be his anger.
In proportion to his wealth,
So he will increase his wrath.
A hasty quarrel kindles a fire.
A hasty dispute sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark,
It will glow.
If you spit on it,
It will be put out.
Yet both come out of your mouth.”
Sirach reminds us of the problems with quarrels and arguments. If you refrain from conflicts, your sins will be less. Usually it is the hot tempered people who start disputes. Sinners disrupt friendships. They sow discord among peacemakers. Then Sirach has a number of proportional examples. The more fuel you have, the more the fire burns. The more stubborn you are, the more disagreements you create. The stronger you are, the more you will be angry. The more wealth that you have, the more fury you will have. Sometimes it is a hasty quarrel that starts a fire that leads to bloodshed. However, you have control with your mouth. You can either blow on the spark to increase the flame or spit on the spark to put it out. The choice is yours, spit or blow on the spark of a fire to increase or decrease the argument.
When you come to serve the Lord,
Prepare yourself for testing!
Set your heart right!
Do not be impetuous
In time of calamity!
Cling to him!
Do not depart!
Thus your last days may be prosperous.
Accept whatever befalls you!
In times of humiliation,
Gold is tested in the fire.
Those found acceptable
Are tested in the furnace of humiliation.
Trust in him.
He will help you
Make your ways straight.
Hope in him!”
Here we have a series of admonitions about trusting God. If you want to serve the Lord, you will be tested. You need a good heart. You need to be steadfast. You cannot be hasty in times of trouble. You must cling to the Lord and not depart from him. Then you will have prosperous last days. Accept whatever happens to you. Be patient in times of humiliation. Just as gold is tested in a fire, so are you tested in the furnace of humiliation. You must trust in the Lord. He will help you. You have to make straight your ways. Hope in God! Keep hope alive!
“What your eyes have seen
Do not hastily bring into court.
What will you do in the end?
What if your neighbor puts you to shame?
Argue your case with your neighbor directly.
Do not disclose another’s secret.
Or else someone who hears you
Will bring shame upon you.
Your ill repute will have no end.”
Do not be hasty to bring your neighbor to court, even if you have seen the offense with your own eyes. What will be the gain for you if you are put to shame by your neighbor? Settle the dispute with your neighbor directly. Do not reveal any secrets because someone might hear them. They might bring shame to you and lead to a bad reputation for you.