The Word: The purchaser’s sin

“Market Scene” by Pieter Aertsen (circa 1550) is painting in the collection of The Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany. (Public Domain)

Most people seem to be on the lookout for bargains but are not satisfied with fairness. Selfishness carries them beyond the golden rule, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12.) The practices both of buyers and sellers must be grievous in the sight of God — but it is with the buyers whom we have now to do.

See them trying to cheapen an article — they are looking out for every fault; not with a view to estimate its real value — but to reduce it below the fair price. They often state what they do not believe — and yet think themselves honest. All they want is to get a bargain; they are not particular as to the means by which they obtain it. They do not think of the cost of the item, the wages of the workmen, or the profits of the tradesman; but leave all these out of the question, and only try to reduce the price of the article as cheap as possible.

“It’s no good, it’s no good! says the buyer, it is not worth so much” and yet at the very moment, they believe it to be worth more. “It is an inferior article!” and yet they are conscious that it is an excellent one. They speak as if they cared nothing about it — and yet they feel they must have it, they cannot do without it. They try in every way to depreciate it — that they themselves may obtain a larger profit by it.

“Look!” he says to his friends, “What a bargain! I only gave a pittance for it — and it is worth a great deal. It’s like brand-new — look at the quality.” And yet he had greatly depreciated it in front of the seller. Is this honest? Is this lying? Is there anything honorable in such conduct? Is it not a disgrace to the Christian name? Ought not such practices to be left to infidels and heathens? Can we expect God’s blessing on such a deceitful course? It is impossible. God is neither the author, nor the sanctioner of sin.

Buyers should remember the eye of God follows them into the shop or market; the ear of God listens to every word they say; the book of God records every lie they tell; the Word of God assures them, “that for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the Judgment;” and the God they profess to revere and serve — hates sin, hates it perfectly, hates it always and everywhere; that He makes no allowance for it, that He will not admit of any excuse for it.

Buyers should also remember they are to do all to the glory of God; they are therefore to keep God’s glory in view while buying; and as much in the market as in the house of prayer.

Be a Christian in the market — as well as in the sanctuary. Be a Christian in dealing with your fellow men — as well as in serving your God.

Be scrupulously honest. Maintain a tender conscience.

Always fear a lie, or the appearance of a lie.

Never be vile enough to stoop to practice deception; but always realize that God is with you and observes your conduct at the market. If all who profess the religion of Christ would only act out their Christian principles — they would soon put an end to this wicked practice of deceit. When you next go to market, be sure that you take this thought with you: “God is going with me, and is saying — Be holy, for I am holy! He will observe my conduct and mark my words. I must give an account of myself to God.”

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Do unto others — what you would like to have them do unto you.

Be a pattern of good works.

Live in full prospect of eternity.

James Smith (1802-1862) pastored several Baptist congregations and was Charles Spurgeon’s immediate predecessor at Park Street Church in London (1841-1850).