The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights. [Proverbs 11:1 (NLT)]
The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness. [Proverbs 16:11 (NLT)]
Unless we’re butchers, greengrocers, goldsmiths, or grain merchants, we probably don’t have occasion to cheat anyone by short weighting them, so what do these words about dishonest scales mean to us? But, then I consider the scales of justice: one of the oldest and most familiar symbols associated with law. Those scales represent the impartial weighing of two sides of a question. Perhaps, these proverbs are about far more than cheating someone out of a few ounces of lamb or corn.
Just because we don’t put our thumb on the scale or cheat on our income taxes doesn’t necessarily mean we’re using honest weights. How fair are we when we have to weigh our options? Are we impartial when we consider a course of action? Do we find plenty of time for ourselves but not enough for others? How objective are we when we deal with people? Do those who are more attractive, wealthier, more fun or better educated have more importance to us? Does it tip the scales when someone can return a favor or do something for us? Do we give the benefit of the doubt to certain people and not to others? Do we prejudge people based on their race, accent, clothing, age, or position? Are we as polite and understanding to those who serve us as we are to those we serve? Do we hold ourselves to a different standard than that we hold for others? Do we readily overlook our poor behavior when we wouldn’t tolerate that same behavior in someone else? Do we love some neighbors more than others or more freely extend mercy and kindness to certain people? When we buy something do we expect full disclosure but say, “buyer beware,” when we sell it? Do we correct the check when it’s in the restaurant’s favor but leave well enough alone when it’s in ours? Do our ethics and morals change with the situation or the people present? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, we’ve been using dishonest scales!
The prophets Amos and Micah pronounced judgment on Israel for their lack of social justice, theft, exploitation, corruption, violence, bribery, and unethical business practices. They used dishonest weights; would the prophets say the same of us?
Lord, forgive us when we are false to you, others and ourselves. Free us from bias, dishonesty, and double standards. Make us worthy of your love and the trust that is given to us.
You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. [James D. Miles Allison]