Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” —Amos 8:4–6 (ESV)
The prophet Amos speaks to God’s people, calling them to repent from injustices in the land. In today’s text, Amos describes the sins of the people, effectively holding a mirror before them to make their dishonest dealings apparent.
The text envisions people who are eager to get religious obligations over with so that they can resume doing business—and dishonest business at that. They ‘deal deceitfully with false balances’—rigging the scales to maximize their profits while furthering the plight of the poor. God promises to punish the nation for such injustices throughout the book of Amos.
As God’s people, clearly we should avoid cheating and such dishonest dealings. To enrich ourselves at the expense of others is plainly wrong. If guilty, we should immediately repent and mend our ways. But sometimes we may be tempted to justify ‘lesser’ kinds of dishonesty that are not so apparent to others. It’s been said that integrity is doing what’s right even when no one is looking. The standard of honesty and integrity to which God calls us is a high one. He says, ‘Be holy as I am holy’. As you go about your daily life—in the home, the school, the workplace, the church, the public square—make it your goal to deal as honestly as possible with others. Pursue the biblical ideal of being ‘above reproach’, which means to live in such a way that you cannot be reasonably accused of wrongdoing. In your leadership, ensure that those you lead, the organization you lead, or whatever it is, also operates in integrity. After all, we don’t want to bring reproach on our Lord and Savior, who is blameless!