Unequal Weights and False Scales
“Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.”- Proverbs 20:23
Though many people would try to tell us otherwise, one cannot finally divide life into the two mutually exclusive realms of the sacred and the secular. Undoubtedly, as Protestants have long recognized, Scripture teaches a division of labor in society. The church is tasked with making disciples, preaching the Word of God, and administering the sacraments (Matt. 28:18–20). The job of the state is to bear the sword to protect life and property (Rom. 13:1–7). Given these appointed tasks, the church is not to bear the sword, and the state is not to govern matters of worship and evangelism. The church is to do the job of the church, and the state is to do the job of the state. This does not mean, however, that the church cannot speak to the state, and it does not mean the state must be wholly indifferent to the plight of believers. Moreover, it does not mean that God is concerned only with church matters or that His law only addresses narrowly religious issues such as worship and doctrine. Instead, the Word of God addresses all of life. There is no area of life that does not fall under the governance of divine revelation.
Consequently, even matters that we might otherwise consider wholly secular fall under the direction of God’s Word. This includes economics. In fact, the Bible has much to say about economic matters in both the Old and New Testaments. Many of Jesus’ parables make use of economic imagery (Matt. 25:14–30), and the law of Moses is filled with regulations pertaining to matters that directly affect the economy, such as land ownership, master-slave relationships, and agricultural harvests (Lev. 19:9–10; 25).
Today’s passage gives one of the often-repeated principles of biblical economics, namely, that weights and measures must be accurate (Prov. 20:23). Merchants are not permitted to defraud their customers with standards that allow them to sell less of a product than their buyers think they are getting, and they may not use mislabeled units to buy more of a product than a seller thinks he is selling. The same principles apply to the consumer as well; we are not to cheat merchants out of the fruit of their labor by fraud, theft, or other immoral means. Similarly, governments should not employ unequal measures via the inflation of currency, ever-changing standards of weight, and so forth. Such things are an abomination to the Lord, for He is sovereign also over the economy and prizes truth in all of our relationships.
As the God who is truth Himself, it should be no surprise that one of God’s utmost concerns is with the truthfulness of all of our interactions with others. Christians are to be people who are scrupulously concerned with the truth to the point that they are fair and just even in the smallest economic matters, such as not accepting more change from the cashier than is actually owed. We are to use honest measures and treat others as we would want to be treated.
Passages for Further Study