The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: What the Bible Says About Hoarding & Price Gouging

The present coronavirus pandemic serves as a stark reminder that we truly live in a fallen world full of fallen people who allow crises to bring out the worst in them. It also serves as a reminder that the fallen people in this fallen world have the potential of redemption through faith in Christ when we see people do good deeds.

This past weekend, a person I know invited me to a gathering of people I didn’t know. I was a complete stranger to the homeowners of the place where we met, but in spite of the national emergency declared and them not knowing me from Adam, we all went forward with our gathering. It was a time where we all got to share time, talents, life experiences, and food with each other. I came away enriched by it all.

There are probably stories like this happening across the nation and around the world, contrary to all the fear and panic being churned up. However, there are also people who think they need to go overboard by hoarding things for themselves or hoarding things to take advantage of others. One example is the report about two brothers in Tennessee, Matt and Noah Colvin, who took a U-Haul truck across Tennessee and Kentucky clearing store shelves of hand sanitizer and some medical supplies to sell them at exorbitant prices on Amazon. Thankfully, they were shut down and threatened with legal action, but are now stuck with a financial loss and an over-abundance of things they don’t need that they claim they’re going to donate.

God establishes principles in the Bible that lets us know he is vehemently against greedily hoarding and price gouging or any deceptive price fixing. The underlying purpose for those principles is the idea of having love for, consideration for, and mercy towards our fellow man like God has for us. The Lord shared those principles within an agricultural setting, but when we consider that harvesting back then is equivalent to gathering consumer goods at stores today or that balances, weights and measures back then are equivalent to setting prices today, then we can say how the following scriptures apply to us.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.

10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God. LEVITICUS 19 (In other words, be kind enough to leave some stuff for other people.)

And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God. LEVITICUS 23:22

19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.

20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. DEUTERONOMY 24

A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. PROVERBS 11:1

He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it. PROVERBS 11:26 (In other words, don’t greedily hoard goods that have vital benefits to others.)

A just weight and balance are the Lord’s: all the weights of the bag are his work. PROVERBS 16:11

Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good. PROVERBS 20:23

Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? MICAH 6:11

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