Just and honest weights

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16 NKJV).

Most Americans have little or no experience with balance beam scales. That is the type where there is a beam supporting two baskets or trays, itself supported in the middle so as to be able to go up and down in either direction. One places the item to be weighed on one tray, and a standard known weight on the other, adjusting quantities until the beam balances exactly.

This is one of the most precise methods of weighing readily available, as long as the standard weights are correct. It is obvious, however, that this method also allows for much abuse if one wishes to cheat by using inaccurate weights. One who buys or sells according to this system must trust not only the weight, but its owner / user.

In South Asia this is still the most common method of weighing, whether in one’s home or in the markets. If one goes to buy potatoes he does not purchase a pre-weighed bag of potatoes, but uses the balance beam scales to obtain the number of kilograms or pounds desired. Having done this now regularly for many years I have come to appreciate the wisdom of God as expressed in the Law of Moses and elsewhere in the Old Testament.

Almost 500 years after the Law of Moses was given, wise King Solomon testified, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). Israelite society had strong motives to follow ethical practices in business. Their God abhorred any cheating or dishonesty.

The God of the Old Testament and of Israel is still sovereign, and is not limited to one particular people or time. He is still governing the affairs of men (Romans 13:1ff) and all humans are accountable to him (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Corruption is not limited to one nation, continent, or region of this world. Dishonest people live and practice in every nation. We all may be tempted to cheat, lie, or steal. But the Word of God continues to remind us that such activities are evil, and are abominable to our God.

Weights and measures are not used only in purchasing vegetables or other materials. There are many standards in use, not always of a material nature. And all such standards are capable of being perverted and misused. Morality, faith, patriotism, and love are a few categories where we behave according to fixed, accepted standards. And in each of these categories we find false, dishonest standards being substituted for those which are true.

Situation ethics suggests that a behavior may be moral under some circumstances, but immoral at other times. Such a standard gives each person the right to determine when he must follow a rule, or when it may be ignored.

The Bible says “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). But modern spiritual advisers teach that we believe what we choose and all faith is valid. There is no standard of doctrine and practice to which all are accountable. Such a standard is false and untrue.

A popular commercial asks, “What is in your wallet?” God demands to know, “What kind of standards do you have in your bag?” Let us remember Jesus’ command, “. . . judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

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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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