I know that there are some Christians out there who balk at the use of a study Bible: “You have God’s word and the Holy Spirit, so what else do you need?” I understand the reasoning behind this, but I can’t agree with it. Over the last 2,000 years, most Christians haven't had access to a study Bible, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore something that God has given to us to understand his word better. Keeping in mind that anything outside Scripture itself is not inspired, if we deny ourselves resources like these we're basically saying that interpreting the Bible started with us. We don’t need to listen to any of the thousands of years of accumulated wisdom by Christians who've gone before us and done most of the “heavy lifting.” I personally recommend the NIV Study Bible, available at any Christian bookstore.
Today’s passage is a good illustration of the need for a study Bible with good notes; without one, most modern readers would be either puzzled or bored. In the ancient Middle East (as well as in some parts of the world today), there were no absolute standards for weights and measures. If you approached a merchant and ordered, say, a half-pound of bread, the merchant would place some bread on a scale, and use some weights on the other side in order to measure off the quantity you ordered. If the merchant was buying some bread from a supplier, he would repeat the process. Unfortunately, the weights he used to buy and the weights he used to sell were commonly not the same. He would use a “light” weight when selling and a “heavy” weight when buying in order to cheat others. God apparently took this kind of theft very seriously: Proverbs 11:1 even claims that “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him."
What does this have to do with us? I don’t own a grocery store, so how could I be guilty of this? I think the point behind commands such this is that God wants us to be honest and not have double standards when dealing with others. Naturally the most obvious application is in my business and work ethics. Lots of us tend to interpret the rules to suit us, and none of us can claim that we’re completely honest with everyone with whom we do business. Just to remind you, God hates that.
There are examples outside the business world which can apply as well. For example, I tend to get angry when someone in front of me doesn’t pay attention at a red light and doesn’t immediately go forward when the light turns green. Of course, there are times when I let my mind wander at a red light and do the exact same thing. Or how about taking forever at an ATM when I’m waiting behind them? Obviously my business with the ATM is so much more important than what they’re doing! See what I mean about double standards?
I don’t know about you, but I am suddenly very glad that the blood of Jesus covers my sin. However, that doesn’t excuse the “dishonest scales” in my life.
Lord Jesus, you are Truth incarnate, and you expect your followers to reflect this. Please help me.