A just weight and balance are the LORD's: all the weights of the bag are his work.
Should a Quarter Pounder weigh four ounces? Should a gallon of milk contain 128 fluid ounces? How about a gallon of gasoline? Do your answers change based on whether you are buying or selling? The great God of heaven expects total honesty in all transactions.
Should the medicine you receive at a hospital or drugstore be 100%, or 99%, pure? Could it make a difference? How about settings and accuracy of diagnostic equipment? Do you want your father to have a perfect MRI? How about someone else’s father?
Should the survey pins of your property boundaries be accurate to centimeters, inches, feet, or yards? Do you want your house’s assessed value close to market value or very close? Does your answer change if your assessment is higher or lower than real value?
Do you feel strongly about these questions? Who says that measurements are important? And who is going to do anything about it, if measurements are not made properly? Should you be able fudge your business transactions a little if no one gets hurt badly?
More than $7 trillion worth of economic transactions take place in the United States each year based on measuring devices. Just a 1% error could amount to over $70 billion, greater than the annual budget of many nations. Small errors add up to big consequences.
A typical convenience store sells 100,000 gallons of gasoline a month. If the owner adjusts his pumps to 127 fluid ounces per gallon, which you could not detect even with measuring cups, he could pocket an extra $20,000 per year. Who would know?
The LORD JEHOVAH knows. He ordained just weights and measurements; He commands them; and He enforces them (Lev 19:35-36; Deut 25:13-15; Ezek 45:10). One of Israel’s sins before being destroyed as a nation was deceitful merchant practices with false balances and weights (Hosea 12:7; Amos 8:5; Micah 6:11). Beware, reader!
God will judge those nations or men who alter weights or measures for gain, because that is an abomination to Him; but He delights in their right use (Pr 11:1; 20:10,23). Honesty and accuracy in economic transactions did not originate with man; they are from God. The laws of the nation of Israel in 1500 B.C. were the envy of the world (Deut 4:5-9).
Compliance with this ordinance leads to economic prosperity, as it has in America. When was the last time you measured your Quarter Pounder, milk, gasoline, medication, or survey pins? Economic trade is allowed to move at full speed with full confidence: not because Americans are intelligent, but because America follows God’s ordinance, whether they individually think about it or not. God’s laws work even for the ignorant.
Before modern scales, sellers provided a balance and weights (buyers did not want to carry weights everywhere, and who would trust theirs anyway). The extra weights were kept in a bag. Stealing was done two ways: the balance and/or the weights were altered. A wicked seller could sell 15 ounces as a pound or 35 inches as a yard to pad his profits.
This proverb helps define the eighth commandment, Thou shalt not steal (Ex 20:15). Since some will fudge transactions to steal from others, the LORD condemns them all in order to establish property rights, economic confidence, and professional integrity. Is your resume true, and do you answer interview questions with perfect honesty, for misrepresenting yourself is attempting to steal a position and salary you do not deserve?
Though the U.S. has an Office of Weights and Measures, under the authority of the Commerce Department, which regularly inspects public measuring devices, there is yet room to cheat by those who do not fear the Lord. You should be thankful for this governmental authority and its protection, but you must apply this proverb to yourself.
Dear reader, do you steal on the job by purloining, pilfering, or small thefts (Tit 2:10)? Do you coast through jobs, cut corners from job specs, stretch breaks, or pad the time card? Do you pace yourself and make jobs take longer than they should? Should a windshield be installed perfectly, or almost perfectly? Should a sandwich be made according to the company’s precise menu specifications? Or is close good enough?
When buying things, the LORD condemns pointing out faults and then boasting to others you got a great deal (Pr 20:14). For you are using a false balance – to the seller the item was overpriced, and to your friends it was under priced. This is an offence to the Judge of all the earth. Men will even say, “I got a steal!” This is true, for they are truly thieves!
Do you always pay a fair price? When you detect an error in a transaction, do you point it out, even if it costs you more? Do you return extra change from a transaction? You will never get ahead being stingy or tight in your financial dealings (Pr 11:24-26; 19:17; 28:8). This is a mark of profane men and why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.
How do you treat widows (Ex 22:22)? Do you pay their asking prices? Would you pay her more, if she were below market? Would you give a child without a parent a better deal? Consider well, dear reader. The LORD is watching (Deut 10:18; Psalm 68:5).
How did God punish stealing? Restore the stolen amount seven times (Pr 6:31), and if you could not afford that, you were sold into slavery (Ex 22:3). Simple, proper, perfect!
What if others take advantage of you in minor ways? Jesus taught to let the matter go in the pursuit of peace (Matt 5:38-48). Paul taught that it was better to be defrauded in small things than to bring up a conflict or trial in the church for it (I Cor 6:6-8).
How should a Christian conduct himself in this world? Always exceed the expectations of those trusting you, on both the selling and buying sides and in all other economic transactions and professional relationships. You will always come out ahead, for promotion comes from the Lord (Ps 75:6-7). You will grow in favor with God and men.
Even in the New Testament this commitment to accuracy, honesty, and integrity is exalted, as Paul commanded and illustrated (Rom 12:17; II Cor 8:20-21). Accurate, honest, and liberal conduct is living testimony of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and will cause others to ask a reason of your hope (Matt 5:16; I Pet 2:12; 3:15).