“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)

The context of this passage from Amos is a vision he has of a basket of ripe fruit. As inviting as that seems, it is really a symbol of tribulation. The time is ripe for God’s judgment. Amos lists the sins for which Israel is going to suffer punishment. These have to do again with religious hypocrisy. Though they kept the feasts and the Sabbaths they were more interested in making a profit through dishonesty than worshipping God. They cheated their customers and the poor and needy with high prices and shoddy goods. They thought they were following Yahweh, but their abuse of their fellow man and pursuit of dishonest gain showed that that they had rejected Him. For that reason, He would no longer accept their offerings, hear their prayers or speak to them. They would go into exile without another word from the Lord.

As Christians we ought to be concerned with justice and fair treatment for all. We may think we are okay with God because we believe all the right things or because our expressions of religious devotion and piety are so deep. We may say all the right things, perform all the right rituals and sing all the right songs but if we cheat others or treat them with prejudice, unfairness and injustice, or take advantage of them for dishonest profit, or allow others to do so, our actions reveal that we may not actually know God nor He us. We cannot say we love God if we ignore His demands for righteous treatment of others. If we have experienced God’s unconditional mercy, we will extend that same mercy to others.