1. If you show kindness, know to whom you show it,
And you shall be thanked for your good deeds.+
2. Do good to a godly man, and you will be repaid-
If not by him, then certainly by the Most High.
3. There shall be no good things for him who continues in evil things,
Or for him who does not give alms cheerfully.
4. Give to a godly man, but do not help the sinner.+
5. Do good to a humble man, but do not give to an ungodly man.
Hold back his bread and do not give it to him,
Lest by it he lord it over you.
For you will receive twice as much evil coming back
For all the good you did for him.
6. For the Most High also hates sinners
And will render punishment on the ungodly.
*Never Trust an Enemy*
7. Give to the good man, but do not help the sinner.+
8. A friend will not be revealed when you are prosperous,
Nor will an enemy hide himself when you are in adversity.
9. When a man prospers, his enemies are grieved,
But when he is in adversity, even a friend will separate himself.
10. Never trust your enemy,
For as copper becomes rusty, so is his evil.
11. Even if he acts humble and goes about with a humble posture,
Watch yourself, and be on your guard.
Then you shall be to him like him who wipes off a mirror,
And you will know that it is not corroded continually.
12. Do not let him stand by your side,
Lest he overthrow you and take your place.
Do not seat him on your right,
Lest he seek your seat of honor.
Then at last you will know the truth of my words,
And because of my words you will be pierced with sorrow.
13. Who will pity a snake charmer when he is bitten,
Or those who go near wild animals?
14. So no one will pity one who approaches a sinful man
And gets involved in this sins.
15. He will stay with you for a while,
But if you turn aside from him, he will not put up with you.
16. An enemy speaks sweetly with his lips,
But in his heart he will plan to throw you into a pit.
An enemy will shed tears, but if he finds an opportunity,
He will not be satisfied apart from shedding your blood.
17. If evil comes upon you,
You will find your enemy there ahead of you,
And as he pretends to help you,
He will pull your feet from under you.
18. He will shake his head and applaud with his hands;
And he will whisper many things and alter his expression.
+12:1-6 - Christians extend hospitality, but not indiscriminately (see Ps 140:4, 5; 2Ti 3:6). Almsgiving - giving to the needy - has always been a godly virtue. The Wisdom of Sirach teaches when one practices this virtue to wisely choose a godly recipient. The man who does not give alms is classed with those who persist in evil (v. 3).
+12:4-7 - These verses reflect the view of ancient societies, including the Hebrews and Greeks, that one should extend grace or do good mainly to one's family or to one who is godly. Few believed in doing good to one's enemies until Jesus Christ strongly taught us to do so (see Mt 5:38-48; Lk 6:27-36). St. Paul sums up the Christian view of almsgiving: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gal 6:10).
+12:7-8 - In a fallen world the godly will always have enemies - either human or demonic, or both. Ben Sirach warns us of fair-weather friends (vv. 8, 9). An enemy is like rust, which ruins metal (v. 10). Be on guard and never trust your enemy (v. 10).