Biblical Principle #274: Measure Honestly

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In the Law of Moses, God told Israel to use honest scales and measurements.


Fleshly nature is to look out for our self-interest and to do that which benefits us, even when it is to the detriment of another. This is selfishness.

One way a person can be selfish is by knowingly choosing to use scales and measurements that are consistently slightly in their favor—too heavy, too light, too short, or too long—to gain a minor advantage over whomever they are dealing with. Over numerous transactions, this minuscule amount piles up.

GOD told Moses:

35 You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or balances. 36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, and honest measures: I am the Lord your God, who brings you out of the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:35-36 OSB

In another place, GOD reiterated these instructions, adding the extent of His hatred for such dishonesty:

13 “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a true and just weight and a true and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. 16 For all who do such things, all who behave unjustly, are an abomination to the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 25:13-16 OSB

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2 responses to “Biblical Principle #274: Measure Honestly”

  1. George Avatar

    What if I am shopping and the cashier offers a discount, that was not asked for. Or some other option that will benefit me but I refuse and they insist?

    1. Tim Harris Avatar

      Hey George, great questions! First, and I know you know this but I need to mention it for all readers just in case, we must be careful to avoid assuming that an instruction, such as this, applies fully or in the same way, to us today. In this case, because honesty is an eternal trait of GOD’s character and His expectation of His children, we do draw application from this.

      In my understanding, the “spirit” of this Principle is about the Israelite’s (and, more generally, any person’s) intent to defraud another with weights and measures they foreknew were in their favor. Premeditation is a key component. The person planned to be prepared for the occasion by keeping the favorable scales or measuring tools handy.

      Back to your question, one of the more common situations we face is where a cashier will try to help us out by asking if we’re military or a senior citizen, perhaps winking at us in the process. If the person (cashier, in this example) applies the discount without our knowledge or involvement, I think it’s fine to accept—though this may vary by situation. However, it would not be right for us to “play along”, mislead, or lie in order to obtain a discount or favorable circumstance. This would be an accurate modern application of what GOD called an “abomination”.

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