Righteousness and justice are inter-related. There is no righteousness without justice. Just as Jesus cannot dispense righteousness without satisfying God’s just requirement for there to be an atonement for sin; so, we cannot receive his righteousness and continue to act unjustly. Perhaps the murder of George Floyd, very topical as I write, is an example of how we can live with an unjust situation for centuries, allowing ‘it’, in this case prejudice on the basis of skin colour, to become engrained in our society and institutions. Prejudice is perhaps the greatest form of injustice because Jesus died for all.
This particular chapter covers a whole range of topics but one of the key areas is acting justly in the way we make (11:1) and handle money (e.g. vv 4,10,18). At a time when digital scales were a figment of the imagination, the use of inaccurate weights in trading was a common practice and an easy way of making ‘a quick buck’. Boundary stones were moveable – it was relatively easy to move them and increase your land ownership. It was always the poor who suffered most at the hands of such unscrupulous traders. This is probably the reason for such a strong condemnation in v.1 – the word for disgrace is better translated as abomination – which again emphasises the place of the poor in the priorities of heaven (Gal 2:10).
So, what are the practical lessons for us in regard to our financial stewardship from today’s passage?
First, be unscrupulously honest in how we handle the income side of our household or business. (v.18). For example: giving our employer our best – working as if for the Lord is the standard (Eph 6:5); being honest before the taxman; not supplementing our income by ‘perks’ of the job. (For those of us who are ‘employers’ then treating our employees as if the Lord is the call).
Second, be generous givers, especially towards the poor. There is a suggestion here that giving money to those in need is better than promising or securing loans (v.15,24). Either way, being generous to those who have not is the call.
Third, don’t put your trust or hope in wealth (v.4,28). It can’t buy you love and it does not have eternal value. ‘Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness’ carries with it the promise that your Father will give you what you need on time.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you anything that you need to put right in your financial affairs. On the other hand, if you’re in financial difficulties talk to someone about it. There is help available and there is hope.