“Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

We live in a world that revolves around trade. People are constantly buying and selling. Alas, men are often covetous, and will find various means to cheat just to earn a quick buck. They would leave no stone unturned for the sake of economic gain, even if it involves defrauding others. Thus, nations have to set regulations to keep corruption in check.

The “weights” in verse 13 are literally stones which are meant to be of a standard weight. By tampering the weight of the stones, a man could sell his flour for the price of a pound when in actual fact it weighed less. Similarly, he could deceive another that he has sold him a cubit of cloth when the rule (i.e. “measure”) he has used is less than the standard.

The nations of the world often adopt such nefarious tactics to enrich their pockets. However, Israel is not like the other nations. As a spiritual witness, she must not allow corruption to be named among her. She must be holy as the LORD is holy. Thus, there must be integrity in all manner of business dealings. To allow dishonesty to reign in the economy would be tantamount to misrepresenting the God of truth. What an insult to His character! God forbid.

Note that this regulation forbids not just the use but also ownership of diverse weights and measures. An Israelite must not possess any means of cheating. Dishonesty must be furthest from his mind. There is a saying – “Honesty is the best policy”. However, for the Israelite, that is not enough. The principle must be “Honesty is ALWAYS the policy”.

Sadly, the children of Israel failed heed of this command. The prophets often had to rebuke them for their fraudulent practices. In Micah 6:10-11, the prophet lamented, “Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?” (Micah 6:10-11) Similarly, Amos proclaimed, “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat? The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works.” (Amos 8:4-7)

As Christians, we must be careful not to violate the spirit of this law by “cutting corners” in our dealings with men. Some examples of applying “diverse weights and measures” include:

 Selling a product which does not work as advertised, or is tainted. Anybody recall the incident some years ago of melanin found in dairy products in China?
 Promising a quality product at low price but using inferior material that compromises on safety just because it is not easily detectable. For example, constructing a building with walls not made fully of concrete but advertising it as structurally sound.
 Not declaring the defects of a flat or house before selling it.
 Under reporting the mileage, accident history and defects of a vehicle before selling it.
 Overworking an employee outside what is demanded in his contract, but still paying him the same wages.
 Not doing our best according to what is stipulated in our employment contract, but still accepting full wages.
 Pretending to be sick and going on paid medical leave, while using the opportunity to do other activities.

On the other hand, we have an illustration of honesty from the origin of the expression “sterling quality”:

“Some seven hundred years ago, there was in northern Germany a firm of merchants by the name of Easterling. So upright were they in all their dealings that the gold and silver which they circulated be-came the standard for the correct quality and content of metal.
Easterling became abbreviated to Sterling, and from that day to this all silver having a content of at least .925 fine silver (less than 8 per-cent balance being the necessary alloy) is marked ‘sterling’.
That was a wonderful reputation for honesty to attain, and great was the honour given them in having their name applied down through the centuries as the standard for fine silver articles.” (Adapted from Paul Lee Tan’s Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

Dearly beloved, when we defraud men, we put the name of Christ to an open shame. Such behaviour is an abomination to the Lord. On the other hand, honesty in our dealings with men brings glory to Christ and is pleasing in God’s eyes. As Christians, honesty is not just the best policy – it is ALWAYS the policy!

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew

An Illustration of Honesty:
The Account of Young Abraham Lincoln
(Adapted from Paul Lee Tan’s Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

A woman entered a store and asked for half a pound of tea.

The young clerk weighed it out, and handed to her in a parcel. This was the last sale of the day.

The next morning, when commencing his duties, Abe discovered a four-ounce weight on the scales. It flashed upon him at once that this must have been left over from the previous night. He had given his customer short weight.

Many country merchants would not have been concerned by such a discovery. Not so for this young man. He weighed out the balance of the half pound, shut up the store, and carried it to the defrauded customer.

This young man later became the President of the United States of America. The name, so often given to President Lincoln, of “Honest Old Abe”, was well deserved.