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Standards

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1, NKJV).

Corruption in government, business, and other social institutions is common to every nation and region. It is evident in ancient history, just as in modern media coverage of everyday events.

Some of the places I visit regularly have had their turn at the top of the “most corrupt” lists published annually by various organizations. But we in the U.S. cannot claim innocence either. Especially in the last decade or so there have been many instances of fraud and scandal affecting our political institutions as well as some of the largest and most respected corporations.

We well remember the debate of the 1990’s over the importance of character in elected leaders. The prevailing opinion seems to have been that it is not as important as other considerations – at least that is what the counting of votes indicated.

Character may be defined in terms of morals and ethics. A person of character keeps his or her word, may be trusted, is faithful to obligations, and is honorable and essentially good in speech and actions.

Underlying these ideas is that of adhering to a standard. A person of character stands for certain principles and values, and these are open to public scrutiny. Such a one is willing to be evaluated or measured by that standard, and willing to accept the consequences of any discrepancy.

One does not read far in the Bible before becoming aware that it promotes standards of behavior and holds its readers to them. From the commandment given to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden to the parting words of Jesus in the book of Revelation, God requires man to obey his laws and follow his statutes.

Few statements speak more definitively and clearly to the existence of absolute truth than that quoted above from Proverbs 11:1. The possibility of dishonest scales demands the equal possibility of those that are honest. Honest scales accurately weigh a specific quantity of material. If there were no standard achievable and repeatable measure of a pound or a kilogram, then there could not be honest scales. But such a weight does exist, as does the means to measure it.

A scale set to register one pound when the actual weight of the object upon it is 14 ounces is correctly deemed dishonest. If calibrated that way intentionally or used with the knowledge of its inaccuracy, it is intended to defraud. For this reason the Bible states that they are an abomination to God.

A broader application of this principle leads to the conclusion that God prefers (delights in) honesty. He desires that his people behave ethically and morally. In other words, character matters to God.

If we are honest with ourselves we must admit that character is important to us as well – even to those without religious identity or faith in God. Who among us would knowingly and willingly submit his health to a dishonest physician – one whose word could not be trusted? What about a banker or investment counselor? Or for that matter would we call a plumber or electrician into our home who was known to be a thief?

There are standards of moral and ethical conduct, what we call right and wrong. These standards are taught in the Bible, but are self-evident from social experience as well. We base our relationships and every day decisions upon them. And whether we know it or not, we also base our eternal destiny upon them.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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