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Short-changing

by Donald Geddes — last modified Oct 19, 2014 07:36 AM

Salt and Vinegar 45

Have you wondered why your bag of potato chips is half full of air?

The media has drawn attention to the practice of manufacturers who have reduced the content of packaged products while still retaining the same size packet and price.

This seeks to deceive and robs the consumer. It is clearly dishonest.

Such practices are condemned in the Bible. Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights…I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:35–36 NIV)

Israel was to maintain honest weights in order to reflect God’s standard of integrity.

Deuteronomy 25:13–15 goes further by condemning the practice of having one weight for the buyer and another for the seller “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” In other words, the use of dishonest weights is seen in the same light as dishonest judges. If there is no standard of integrity then the trust upon which society is built will crumble.

This is why Proverbs 11:1 says: “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him.” Amos gives the reason: Dishonest weights hurt the poor — Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’ — skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales. Amos 8:4–6.

Cheating on weights is a sin against society which God hates because it hurts the poor.

Jesus instructed His disciples not only to be honest with weights but to go further and be generous: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) Such generosity will encourage others to be generous in return and is the recipe for prosperity.

Being mean by cheating on weights is unchristian and a denial of God’s grace which he has given freely (Eph 1:6). Romans 3:24 reminds Christians that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” That is why Jesus instructed His disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matt. 10:8).

What does this mean to us? Christians must be absolutely scrupulous in their dealings with others — no cheating or short-changing. It means for instance that we must be absolutely honest in filling in our tax returns.

It also encourages us to be generous in our giving to the needy and to the Lord’s work because as 1 Corinthians 2:12 says, “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” Having received the Holy Spirit when we became a Christian, we are freed from the mean and cheating spirit of the world. This enables us to be generous in our giving as an expression of our thanks to the Lord for all He has done for us (2 Cor 8:1-5).