18 The Lord, who lives forever, created the whole universe,2 and he alone is just.[a]4 He has given no one enough power to describe what he has done, and no one can investigate it completely.5 Who can measure his majestic power? Who can tell the whole story of his merciful actions?6 We cannot add to them; we cannot subtract from them. There is no way to comprehend the marvelous things the Lord has done.7 When we come to the end of that story, we have not even begun; we are simply at a loss for words.
Human Beings Are Nothing
8 What are human beings? Of what use are we? The good that we do—the evil that we do—what does it all mean?9 If we live a hundred years, we have lived an unusually long time,10 but compared with all eternity, those years are like a drop of water in the ocean, like a single grain of sand.11 That is why the Lord is so patient with us, why he is so free with his mercy.12 He looks at us and knows that we are doomed to die; that is why he is so willing to forgive us.13 We can show compassion to someone we know, but the Lord shows compassion for all humanity. He corrects us; he disciplines us; he teaches us. Like a shepherd tending sheep, he brings us back to himself.14 He will have compassion on us if we accept his guidance and are eager for him to show us where we are wrong.
Kindness and Charity
15 My child, when you help someone, don't reprimand him at the same time. When you make a gift, don't say anything that hurts.16 Your words count for more than what you give. Even dew gives some relief during a spell of hot weather.17 Yes, kind words are more effective than the best of gifts, and if you are really concerned, you will give both.18 It is stupid to be unkind and insulting. No one's eyes are going to sparkle at a gift that you resent giving.
19 Know what you are talking about before you speak, and give attention to your health before you get sick.20 Examine your conscience before the Lord judges you; then when that time comes, he will forgive you.21 Humble yourself before you are punished with sickness. When you have sinned, show repentance.22 If you make a promise to the Lord, keep it as soon as you can. Don't wait until you are about to die to set things straight.23 But before you make such a promise, be prepared to keep it. Don't try to test the Lord's patience.24 Think! Do you want him to be angry with you on the day you die? When you face his judgment, do you want him to turn his back on you?25 When you have all you want, think what it is like to be hungry, what it is to be poor.26 Things can change in a single day; the Lord can act very quickly.27 If you are wise, you will be careful in everything you do. When sin is all around you, be especially careful that you do not become guilty.28 Every intelligent person can recognize wisdom and will honor anyone who shows it.29 If you appreciate wisdom when you hear it, you will become wise yourself, and your words will be a source of wisdom for others.
30 Don't be controlled by your lust; keep your passions in check.31 If you allow yourself to satisfy your every desire, you will be a joke to your enemies.32 Don't indulge in luxurious living; the expense of it will ruin you.33 Don't make yourself a beggar by borrowing for expensive banquets when you don't have enough money of your own.
Sirach 18:2Some manuscripts add verses 2b-3: and there is no other besides him. 3 He guides the world with his hand, and everything obeys him. He is the king of all things, and his power separates what is holy from what is not.
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