Monday, June 21, 2010

God and commerce (DT 25:13-16)

"You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)
God does not view our lives as compartmentalized; our spiritual life, family life, work life, and recreational life. God views all of our life as one. Whether it is in business, family, church, or leisurely pursuits, God views it as one life before Him and He expects us to display morality and righteousness in every aspect of our lives.

In this scripture God is referring to how we relate to others in the course of business. Do we treat everyone fairly? Do we represent ourselves, our products, and our services honestly and equitably? Or do we oppress others in our business dealings? "A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, he loves to oppress." (Hosea 12:5) God is not opposed to making a profit but He does condemn those who, in their pursuit of a profit, seek to deceive and oppress others.
"Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, 'When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?'" (Amos 8:4-6)
There are things more important than money; righteousness, fairness, decency, and honesty are all of greater value than all the gold in the world. These values are to be prized, not only in our religious life, but also in our work, business, and enterprises.

When considering good government, one of the primary enablers of commerce is a system of standard weights and measures. God provided a specific set of measurements for the Israelites to promote commerce and a healthy economy.
"Thus says the Lord God, 'Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Stop your expropriations from My people,' declares the Lord God. 'You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath. The ephah and the bath shall be the same quantity, so that the bath will contain a tenth of a homer and the ephah a tenth of a homer; their standard shall be according to the homer. The shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall be your maneh.'" (Ezekiel 45:9-12)
God goes to great lengths to describe the different measurements and their quantities so that the Israelites would have standards to support their commerce. In the same way, it is incumbent upon government to establish standard weights and measures to help promote equitable commerce between its people.

David Robison

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