The Lord hates people who use dishonest scales. He is happy with honest weights.
Proverbs 11:1 (GNT)
Some people accuse the Bible of no longer being relevant to life in the 21st Century. I totally disagree with this! Never more has the Bible been more relevant than right now.
As I sat down to write this morning, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about. Usually when this happens, I start to read the Proverbs as they are so rich with life lessons and wisdom. I did not have to read for long today before I felt this verse was important to discuss.
I am working from home at the moment due to the COVID-19 virus. While our office is technically open, nearly all employees are able to log in from home and do their daily work from there.
I thank God for my employer who has been extremely supportive during this time. They have been more than understanding about how we do our work while balancing caring responsibilities.
We all had a chuckle the other day as a colleague’s young child burst into the room where he was conducted a teleconference and shouted, “Daddy, I’ve done a poo!” before he could trigger the mute button!
So what does any of this have to do with this verse from Proverbs? I can’t recall the last time I saw a set of balance scales, let alone used one. I certainly have never used one in my working life…
In context, this verse is about being honest. If you imagine people selling goods by weight in a market, then you will start to get an idea of what this is about. A customer would ask for a pound of whatever product they were buying. The seller would use their balance to weigh it out. You would have the product on one side, and the weight on the other. When they balanced, you knew you had the right amount.
The problem with this system was that dishonest sellers would use weights which weren’t quite true. They may be marked as a pound weight, but actually be slightly less. The result was that the customer was cheated and did not get what they paid for.
This happened to me once. I bought a bulk pack of coffee beans. I ordered one kilogram, but when it arrived I weighed it. The package only contained around 900g of coffee, and so was 10% short. When I complained, I was told the weighing machine they used had a certain tolerance or error margin. Some customers may get less than a kilo, while others slightly more.
Perhaps this was true. Perhaps I was just an unfortunate customer who got slightly less, while someone else a little more. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt – but isn’t it funny how it so rarely works out in our favour?
Again, you might be thinking what does this have to do with anything?
The point of the proverb is that we are to be honest in our dealings. If we are selling something for a particular weight, then it should actually weigh that much. It is about integrity.
For someone like me who works in an office role, I rarely interact with customers nor do I sell a particular product. But the principles can still be applied.
If I am paid to start work at 9am, but don’t arrive until 9.10 then I am using an unjust balance – that is, I’m stealing that 10 minutes. Is it really stealing? Actually, I think it is and unless we work those extra ten minutes at the other end of the day or take a shorter lunch break, we are taking something we have not earned.
This is very much pertinent to our current situation. For me, working at home with four children running around can be very challenging. As I say, my employer has been very understanding and is allowing us time to sort out domestic issues. I should not take advantage of this however.
God wants us to be people of excellence. He wants us to be a good example to the world. Even if the rest of the world thinks it is fine to steal a few minutes here and there, we live to a higher standard. We are not satisfied to live below par just because no one is looking, because we know God is always looking.
Some say the Ten Commandments are old fashioned or even irrelevant. Not so.
Do not steal.
Exodus 20:15 (GNT)
This is a pretty straightforward commandment.
God has not changed His mind.
While we may not enter a store, pick something up and leave without paying for it, we sometimes fall a little short. If an online shop makes an error and sends you two items instead of one, and you’ve only paid for one, then you do not have the right to keep it without checking with the store. Offer to pay for it or return it, and many stores may just tell you to keep it. This has happened to me more than once.
Do not steal. It sounds simple, but can be applied in many ways in our lives. God has convicted me while writing this, and I hope it encourages you to come up higher and reach for excellence in all you do.