One Year Wisdom Challenge

How Christians Lose Their Creds When They Fudge the Numbers

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One Year Wisdom Challenge #8

Why do we all love an underdog-who-wins story? A David and Goliath story? We like to see the little guy win an uneven, usually unfair match up. Why? Because we are the little guy. Much of life keeps us perpetually at an unfair advantage, especially in areas where we interact with the world of commerce.

We’ve become so used to living with a level of corruption and imbalance, it angers us, but doesn’t surprise us.

It’s okay for large hedge fund firms to drive stock market prices up and down, but it’s not okay for a group of little guys to use the same laws and allowances in the stock market.  That’s imbalanced.

Many stores follow the practice of marking up product prices before they create a “sale” on those same products. That’s imbalanced.

Cell phone and internet providers often give better rates to new customers instead of rewarding their loyal customers with the lower rates. That’s imbalanced.

What’s your story of imbalance? In a previous post I discussed the imbalances in our judicial system. God is not a fan. Did you notice though, that he also hates imbalance in the world of commerce? Re-read these verses from an earlier February post, with that thought in mind. The Hebrew words for “balance,” and “weights,” relate to business and commerce.

 “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,” Proverbs 11:1.

 “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord,” Proverbs 20:10.

“Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord and false scales are not good,” Proverbs 20:23.

Why could Solomon state so unequivocally, that God hates dishonesty in the marketplace? I think it’s because he knew God’s original laws on these matters.

“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt,” Leviticus 19:35-36.

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you,” Deuteronomy 25:13-16.

A close, reading of these two passages, reveals that God places a lot of weight on how humans handle “weights” in their business dealings. So, why does this matter to us unless we are a business owner? Because, we must guard our hearts against doing the same kinds of things as the examples above. I don’t think that God cares whether you’re fudging with two dollars or two million dollars.  He hates it all.

  • When a merchant accidentally undercharges you for a product do you stay silent or speak up? Recently, Ken and I purchased a fire pit cover at a large store. The price marked was $36.99 but when we went through the self-checkout, the cover rang up for $6.00. Ken and I decided early on in our marriage, we never wanted to acquire even the smallest of items through shady dealings.

So, Ken walked to a nearby clerk and pointed out the mistake and asked if perhaps the item was on clearance. When the clerk checked the item through the greater system, she realized that someone had entered that price in incorrectly. We offered to pay the $36.99. She said, “No. Our system doesn’t allow for me to override this price, so today you are getting a wonderful sale on this item.”  We got the low price without forfeiting God’s blessing.

We’ve had many situations like that, and they don’t always work out financially in our favor, in the short run. Ken and I have decided we prefer the bigger picture, long-term approach.

  • Are you completely honest with your tax return? Are you claiming deductions appropriately or are you fudging some facts to lower your taxes? One year, Ken and I were audited because the IRS agent did not believe we had given as much to charitable organizations as we had. His gruff, intimidating manner made the beginning of the meeting quite unpleasant. As the three of us looked through every one of our receipts together, Ken and I observed a change in his demeanor. By the end of the audit, he was respectful of our commitments to help “the least of these,” financially. I couldn’t help but wonder why he assumed we were lying about our deductions enough to trigger an audit. What kinds of church folks had he dealt with in the past?

Some other examples that come to my mind were shared with me, (sometimes gleefully) within Christian circles.

  • Representing your income as lower than it is to qualify for scholarships and loans.
  • Lying about who is and isn’t living in your house and driving your cars to lower insurance premiums.
  • Getting to work later and checking out earlier than your scheduled times.
  • Claiming you are “working at home,” when you really aren’t.

Some of these may really meddle in someone’s life. I am sorry. I’m not judging you. I’ve got enough beams in my own eyes.

My goal is always to teach and encourage other believers to walk rightly so that you don’t miss out on all the wonderful destiny God has for you. Why would we ever want to be mixed up with anything God considers abominable?  

For every one of these examples, someone is being cheated because balanced scales are not being used. When it’s a lost person who is being cheated by a Christian, that damage is profound. What if Ken and I had cheated on our reporting of charitable giving? I don’t’ think we can fathom the damage we can do. Through dishonest business dealings, we may drive someone away from the Gospel who may have also brought others along with them.

As we close out February and its theme of injustice and imbalance, I’m challenging you to allow the Holy Spirit to assist you in a self-examination. If I am involved in the smallest way, with perpetuating injustices or shady weights, I might forfeit all or part of my God-given destiny. Man, I don’t want to do that. Do you?  Make sure you get right so you can get on with it.

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