Let it not grieve you to bow down your ear to the poor, and give him a friendly answer with meekness.
All Commentaries on Wisdom of Sirach 4:8 Go To Wisdom of Sirach 4
Salvian the Presbyter
The divine voice admonishes each one of us through the language of the holy Scriptures, "Honor the Lord with your belongings." In another passage it says, "Pay your debt." God is a tender and mild master. He invites us to spend the goods of our earthly belongings! He says, "Honor the Lord with your belongings." Everything that is given to us is his, and yet, he affirms that it is ours so that we can give it away. Thus, he calls the ownership of these possessions ours so that there may be a greater reward for work since we spend more time and effort on possessions that belong to us, and in this way the worker necessarily receives a considerably greater reward for his labor.
The Lord has said that the ownership is ours. However, in order that our soul not become too proud, he adds, "Pay back your debt." If a person is not induced to be generous from his devotion, however, he will be constrained to pay from necessity. If faith is of no help to persuade a saint to operate, that which obliges him to satisfy his debt will motivate him. First he says, "Honor the Lord with your possessions," and then, "Pay your debt," so that, if you are devoted, you should give as though it belonged to you; if you are not, provide restitution as though it were not yours. Thus, God has rightly fixed in the law both the will to give and the necessity to pay.
He wants to say to everyone, "You are invited with persuasive words or constricted by contracted debt to do holy deeds. Give, if you want; provide restitution in the contrary case." The apostle also provided similar teaching when he ordered the rich not to be proud, not to put hope on the uncertainty of riches but on God, who, he says, "gives us everything in abundance, which we can enjoy in the will to do good works." " It is one phrase, but with this the apostle teaches us who is the benefactor and what is the reason for the possessions that have been given.