WHY IS IT WRONG TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS?1 Samuel 2:12-26“The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must first be burned.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” So the sin of these young men was very serious in the LORD’s sight, for they treated the LORD’s offerings with contempt”. (1 Samuel 2:16-17)
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS IS SINFUL ARROGANCE Matthew 21:12-17
“Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves”. (Matthew 21:12)It was stipulated in the Law that the needs of all the Levites were to be met through the people’s tithes (Numbers 18:20-24; Joshua 13:14, 33). Since Eli’s sons were priests, they were to be taken care of in this way. But Eli’s sons took advantage of their position of trust to satisfy their lust for power, possessions, and control. Their contempt and arrogance toward the people and the worship of God endangered the integrity of the whole priesthood.
Eli knew his sons were evil, but he did little to correct or stop them, even when the integrity of God’s sanctuary was threatened. As the high priest, Eli should have executed his sons (Numbers 16:16-38). No wonder Eli chose not to confront the situation. But by choosing to ignore their selfish actions, Eli let his sons ruin their own lives and the lives of many others. There are times when serious problems must be confronted, even if the consequences might be painful.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF PEOPLE IS DISRESPECTFUL TO GOD.This is the second time Jesus cleared the temple (see John 2:13-17). Merchants and money changers set up their booths in the Court of the Gentiles in the temple, crowding out the Gentiles who had come from all over the civilized world to worship God. The merchants sold sacrificial animals at high prices, taking advantage of those who had come long distances. The money changers exchanged all international currency for the special temple coins-the only money the merchants would accept. They often deceived foreigners who didn’t know the exchange rates. Their commercialism in God’s house frustrated people’s attempts at worship. This, of course, greatly angered Jesus. Any practice that interferes with worshiping God should be stopped.
HOW CAN WE KEEP FROM TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS? Deuteronomy 24:10-22“If you lend anything to your neighbor, do not enter your neighbor’s house to claim the security”. (Deuteronomy 24:10)
REALIZE THAT GOD WILL HOLD US ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR TREATMENT OF OTHERS Matthew 18:1-9
“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Matthew 18:1)God told his people to treat the poor with justice. The powerless and poverty-stricken are often looked upon as incompetent or lazy when, in fact, they may be victims of oppression and circumstance. God says we must do all we can to help these needy ones. His justice did not permit the Israelites to insist on profits or quick payment from those who were less fortunate. Instead, his laws gave the poor every opportunity to better their situation, while providing humane options for those who couldn’t. We are called to treat the poor fairly and to see their needs met.
REALIZE THAT SEEKING ADVANTAGE IS A FORM OF INSECURITY.
The disciples had become so preoccupied with the organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom, they lost sight of its divine purpose. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage. How easy it is to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status in the church. How hard it is to identify with the “little children”-weak and dependent people with no status or influence.
GOD’S WORD ON ADVANTAGE TAKING WHAT CAN TEMPT SOMEONE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANOTHER?1 Samuel 24:4-7 . . . “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today is the day the Lord was talking about when he said, ‘I will certainly put Saul into your power, to do with as you wish.’” Then David crept forward and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done it,” he said to his men.
The temptation of popularity and control can cause us to take advantage of others. Also, we must be certain that the counsel of others is God-focused rather than self-focused.
Zechariah 7:10 . . . Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And do not make evil plans to harm each other.Deuteronomy 24:14 . . . Never take advantage of poor laborers, whether fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns.
2 Timothy 3:5-6 . . . They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that. They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by many desires.
The vulnerable often attract those who take advantage of others.Genesis 27:35-36 . . . Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has carried away your blessing.” Esau said bitterly, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for he has deceived me twice, first taking my birthright and now stealing my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?”
Romans 16:18 . . . Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.
Those who are most concerned about their own personal interests often take advantage of others.
Ezekiel 22:27 . . . Your leaders are like wolves, who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for profit!Jeremiah 23:10 . . . The land is full of adultery, and it lies under a curse. The land itself is in mourning-its pastures are dried up. For the prophets do evil and abuse their power.Micah 7:3 . . . They go about their evil deeds with both hands. How skilled they are at using them! Officials and judges alike demand bribes. The people with money and influence pay them off, and together they scheme to twist justice.Power and money often combine to tempt some to take advantage of others.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS?Deuteronomy 24:15 . . . Pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.Isaiah 3:14 . . . The leaders and the princes will be the first to feel the Lord’s judgment. “You have ruined Israel, which is my vineyard. You have taken advantage of the poor, filling your barns with grain extorted from helpless people.”
John 2:15-16 . . . Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Don’t turn my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
The Lord God considers it sin to take advantage of others. Those who take advantage of others will be judged.Matthew 21:13 . . . He said, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves!’”
Taking advantage of others can interfere with worship.Psalm 25:3 . . . No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.Job 24:20-21 . . . Even the sinner’s own mother will forget him. Worms will find him sweet to eat. No one will remember him. Wicked people are broken like a tree in the storm. For they have taken advantage of the childless who have no protecting sons. They refuse to help the needy widows.
Proverbs 26:26 . . . While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, it will finally come to light for all to see.Those who take advantage of others will eventually be exposed and disgraced.
HOW CAN WE KEEP FROM TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS?Leviticus 19:14 . . . Show your fear of God by treating the deaf with respect and by not taking advantage of the blind.Leviticus 25:17 . . . Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I, the Lord, am your God.
Nehemiah 5:15 . . . This was quite a contrast to the former governors who had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides a pound of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because of my fear of God, I did not act that way.
A healthy fear of God deters us from taking advantage of others. When we see others as God sees them, we will love them, not hurt them.Deuteronomy 24:10-13 . . . If your neighbor is poor and has only a cloak to give as security, do not keep the cloak overnight. Return the cloak to its owner by sunset so your neighbor can sleep in it and bless you. And the Lord your God will count it as a righteous act.Psalm 82:3 . . . Give fair judgment to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
We are to be considerate of others. When we honor our neighbor as ourselves, we will treat our neighbor as we would like to be treated.Jeremiah 22:3 . . . This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!Leviticus 19:15 . . . Always judge your neighbors fairly, neither favoring the poor nor showing deference to the rich.
Deuteronomy 1:16-17 . . . I instructed the judges, “You must be perfectly fair at all times, not only to fellow Israelites, but also to the foreigners living among you. When you make decisions, never favor those who are rich; be fair to lowly and great alike”Zechariah 7:9 . . . This is what the Lord Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.We are to be fair, never show partiality, and always show mercy and kindness to each other. Fairness is keeping the same set of accounts for everyone, without showing favor to some.
Psalm 112:5 . . . All goes well for those who are generous, who lend freely and conduct their business fairly.Proverbs 16:11 . . . The Lord demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standard.
We are to be fair in all business dealings, using God’s standard.2 Corinthians 4:2 . . . We reject all shameful and underhanded methods. We do not try to trick anyone, and we do not distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know that.Isaiah 33:15 . . . The ones who can live here are those who are honest and fair, who reject making a profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong.We are to reject all questionable methods of dealing with others. When we are in Christ, we become Christlike in the way we deal with others.Colossians 4:5 . . . Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.Ephesians 5:16 . . . Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.We should actively search for ways to do good to others. It is when we get caught up with the “things” of this world that we are more likely to begin taking advantage of others.
HOW SHOULD WE BEST REACT WHEN OTHERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF US?Genesis 31:7 . . . He has tricked me, breaking his wage agreement with me again and again. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm.Proverbs 22:22-23 . . . Do not rob the poor because they are poor or exploit the needy in court. For the Lord is their defender. He will injure anyone who injures them.
Ezekiel 34:22 . . . I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused and destroyed. And I will judge between one sheep and another.1 Peter 2:23 . . . He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.We are to trust God to be our protection, our ultimate defender and fair judge. How can we do better than that?
PROMISES FROM GOD:Proverbs 2:6-9 . . . The Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time.
Romans 6:13 . . . Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life.