“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?The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.’” (Amos 8:4-7)

Have you ever wondered why God has not always answered your prayers? Could it be because you are prejudiced, spiteful, mean, or dishonest in your relationships, attitudes, lifestyle, and/or business? This was true of ancient Israel as demonstrated  by this prophecy of Amos. He pronounced God’s judgment on the nation and listed the sins for which Israel was going to suffer punishment. The people were religious hypocrites. They were greedy and selfish. Although they kept the feasts and the Sabbaths, they were more interested in making a dishonest profit by cheating customers with high prices and shoddy goods. The Lord was very displeased by this. Their abusive unkindness showed that that they had rejected God and His Law. 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.

The Lord desires His people seek justice, mercy, and fair treatment for all. We may think we are okay with God because we are baptized and confirmed or we hold the right political views or are citizens of God’s special nation. We may even boast of our expressions of religious devotion and piety. We may say all the right things, perform all the right rituals, sing all the right songs but if we cheat others or treat them with prejudice, unfairness, unkindness, injustice, or take advantage of them for our profit and their harm, 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 do not love others or if we use them as tools to meet our own ends. 

Instead, because we have experienced God’s unconditional mercy in Christ Jesus ourselves, not because of our good works, we will want to extend that same mercy to others. And by God’s grace through His Holy Spirit and His Church, we can do so.