Although I sometimes pray my way methodically through a book of the Bible, sometimes I open to a page at random and pray with the passage I find. The latter approach yielded this passage from the Book of Sirach, which struck me as pretty darn good advice:
Before investigating, find no fault;
examine first, then criticize.
Before hearing, answer not,
and interrupt no one in the middle of his speech.
Dispute not about what is not your concern;
in the strife of the arrogant take no part.
Regarding the first part of the advice – we often have a tendency to react immediately to things, a tendency aggravated by the instant means of communication available to us via the internet. All, or at least most of us, are also guilty at times of accepting things we hear without investigation. So the advice to listen, investigate and examine before we respond…especially before we respond critically is important.
No less important is the advice to “dispute not what is not your concern.” This would seem pretty obvious but I know there are times when I find myself in aggravating exchanges over something, only to step back and realize the issue is of no importance to me. We can so easily get caught up in the moment that we invest enormous energy over things that really are not our concern. (Recognizing this, of course, requires a mindfulness we sometimes lack.)
Think I’ll see what other good advice the Book of Sirach has to offer.