“Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” – Proverbs 20:10
What if you had the ability to make the world a little more fair? What if you could apply a little pressure to help the good guys (you and me) come out on top a little more often? That’s tipping the scales. It doesn’t obliviate truth, it just…shifts the balance a little. God says twice in one chapter that he hates this. It’s not outright swindling and deception God says he hates here, but a shading of the truth, an adjustment of the balance. So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that faith and justice are at stake. And God cares a lot about both of those things. The point of unequal weights and unequal measures was to give their user a slight advantage in his dealings. He would have a built-in margin. If you had these tools of transactional advantage, you were saying two things to God:
1) I don’t trust you to take care of me.
2) You don’t really see, or care, at least about the small stuff.
We are not usually taking a pair of scales into a marketplace, but the same principle applies. Every time we distort truth, every time we bend our presentations so we come out looking a little better than what we know to be true, we are using unequal weights. And we are saying the same things to God: “I can’t just allow things to rest in God’s hands. I won’t really be taken care of. I’ve got to do what it takes to get mine.” We are also discarding justice lightly. Maybe God cares about the big things, and maybe there’s a sort of what goes around comes around general karma, but minute details of justice don’t matter here.
All of this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t not look out for your own interests. When Jesus says that if someone wants to take away your tunic, give him your cloak as well (Mt 5:40), he isn’t suggesting you start signing your emails with your social security number. He is speaking there of an attitude of generosity. In this proverb, he is warning against gaining a deceptive advantage.
Let’s go one step beyond the issue of honesty in business, though. Let’s look at the heart. How do you evaluate or “weigh” yourself? Do you weigh yourself by the same standard that you use for other people? Or do you like to put a finger under the scale so that your failings appear to come out a little lighter? Do we give other people a fair hearing, or do we selectively hear and screen out things to make the final balance come out the way we want?
Why do we do these things? For the same reasons listed above. We don’t trust God. We don’t really believe the gospel. We think we have got to clean ourselves up, maybe not all the way, but at least show a polished up version of ourselves in order to be accepted. We need to tip the scales because God’s grace isn’t that big. We haven’t yet trusted God to take care of us fully because of who Jesus is, and what He did. Then we question how much God cares about the minutia of justice. In many senses, this is another version of the first problem. We do not believe in God’s perfect justice to those of us hidden in Christ, that even the tiniest details, He is giving us the undeserved merit that Jesus won for us.