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The Bible is replete with warnings against dishonest business practices. Quite a few examples can be found in the Book of Proverbs:

1. “He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it” (11: 26). Here, Solomon exposes sellers who take advantage of a public calamity to make more profit at the expense of the poor. These sellers hold on to their grain during a famine in the hope that it will fetch higher prices when the dearth worsens.

2. “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good” (20: 23). This verse refers to the unjust practice of having different weights and measures for buying and for selling.

Matthew Henry explains it well: “In paying and receiving money, which was then commonly done by the scale, they had divers weights, an under-weight for what they paid and an over-weight for what they received; in delivering out and taking in goods they had divers measures, a scanty measure to sell by and a large measure to buy by. … God hates those that thus break the common faith by which justice is maintained, and will be the avenger of all such.”

3. “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (11: 1). God hates unjust dealings and delights in those who deal in integrity. A “false balance” includes all manner of unjust and fraudulent practices. Men may make light of such fraud, and think there is no sin as long as it is not found out. But how will we answer before the omniscient God one day? “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer 17: 10).

The above verses apply mostly to those who sell. However, there is one proverb that is relevant to all of us because it concerns those who buy. For the most part, we are considered buyers because we make purchases on a regular basis.

Proverbs 20: 14 is an interesting verse that addresses the deviousness of a buyer who takes advantage of the seller by complaining: “It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” Exposing the depraved heart of the buyer, this verse shows that every generation from Adam behaves in the same deceitful way to obtain the lustful desire of the heart. In order to get a lower price, the buyer uses fraudulent tactics one of which is to disparage the goods he wishes to purchase: “It is of poor quality”; “It has a blemish”; “I can get it cheaper elsewhere”; “It is not worth the asking price.” When he gets a good deal, the buyer boasts to others of his shrewdness; of how he was able to outstmart the seller. He mocks at the simplicity of the seller for having believed his lies.

Charles Bridges highlights the gravity of this sin: “The gain may be trifling, but the sin is vast. … And here the law of God is deliberately broken; conscience is violated; deceit is practiced; ‘evil is called good, and good evil;’ our duty to our neighbor transgressed – and all this perhaps without a moment of remorse – only to feed man’s covetousness.” How true! Such buyers are liars. It is clear from their boasting that they have dishonestly taken advantage of the seller for their own selfish gain.


Brethren, does this verse speak to our hearts? Have we sometimes been guilty of this deceitful act and bragging afterward of our “achievement”? Our boasting is clear proof not only of our dishonesty, but also of our pride in our ability to deceive.

We may consider such a transgression a minor one. After all, it is not a direct or open lie. But remember that God hates all forms of lying. His omniscient eye marks our common dealings in life – even those which may seem trivial or insignificant to us.

Our God is just, and demands that His children deal fairly and honestly (Ps 11: 7). To honour Him, we should maintain truth and integrity at all times. Take note of God’s commands to obey them: “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another” (Lev 19: 11); “And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another” (Lev 25: 14); “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess 4: 6-7).

As God’s people, let us resolve to “provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Rom 12: 17). Strive for “a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24: 16). May we seek daily to do all things to the glory of God (I Cor 10: 31).

– Pastor