A black and white photograph captures a weary worker's hands, calloused and worn, clutching a tattered Bible, symbolizing the heavy toll of exploiting others in stark contrast to the message of compassion wit

What Does The Bible Say About Exploiting Others?

Exploiting others for personal gain is an unfortunate reality in our world today. From wage theft to predatory lending practices, many people fall victim to systems and individuals that take advantage of them.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible clearly condemns exploiting others and teaches principles of justice, integrity, compassion and care for the vulnerable. Christians are called to stand against exploitation in all its forms.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore various Bible passages that address this important topic to understand what God’s Word says about exploiting people for unfair gain or ill-treatment.

Old Testament Condemnation of Exploitation

Passages Against Oppressing the Poor

The Old Testament contains many passages that condemn the exploitation and oppression of the poor and vulnerable. For example, Proverbs 14:31 states, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Exodus 22:21-27 lays out laws protecting sojourners, widows, orphans, and the poor from being exploited. The prophets frequently rebuked Israel for oppressing the poor and failing to care for the needy (Isaiah 10:1-3, Jeremiah 5:26-29, Ezekiel 22:29, Amos 2:6-7).

Overall, the Old Testament portrays God as caring deeply for the poor and marginalized.

Laws Protecting Vulnerable Groups

The Mosaic Law contains provisions to protect vulnerable groups from being taken advantage of. For example:

  • Laws prohibited taking advantage of the poor by charging interest on loans (Exodus 22:25-27).
  • Laws required that the poor be allowed to glean leftover grain from fields (Leviticus 19:9-10).
  • Laws prevented the wealthy from bribing judges to pervert justice against the poor (Exodus 23:6-8).
  • Laws required paying day laborers their wages promptly (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).

These and other laws sought to provide social protections for the poor and vulnerable in ancient Israelite society.

Principles of Justice and Integrity

The Old Testament emphasizes principles of justice, fairness, and integrity that condemn exploiting others. Leviticus 19:15 says, “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”

Proverbs 11:1 states, “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.” Treating others justly and with integrity reflects God’s character.

Paying Fair Wages

The Old Testament condemns exploiting workers by failing to pay fair wages. Malachi 3:5 says the Lord will judge those who defraud laborers of their wages. Deuteronomy 24:14-15 commands, “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy…Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it.”

Failing to pay fair wages is linked to greed, oppression, and viewing workers as expendable resources rather than image-bearers of God.

Jesus’ Example of Compassion

Caring for the Marginalized

Jesus often reached out to those marginalized in society, including the poor, sick, and social outcasts. He healed the blind, lame, and lepers, showing compassion rather than judgement (Matthew 9:35-38).

Christ defended and affirmed those looked down upon, like declaring a sinful woman as forgiven (Luke 7:36-50). His caring embrace of marginalized groups demonstrated that all people have dignity and worth.

Speaking Against Religious Exploitation

Though deeply religious himself, Jesus strongly critiqued religious elites who used faith to exploit vulnerable people. He condemned religious leaders who overburdened the poor, while acquiring money and prestige for themselves (Matthew 23:4-7).

Christ also famously drove money-changers and merchants out of the temple, accusing them of turning a house of prayer into “a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:12-13). His sharp rebukes aimed to reform exploitative religious practices.

The Good Samaritan Parable

One of Jesus’ most famous teachings is the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), illustrating what compassionate neighborly love looks like. In the story, religious elites ignore a robbed and beaten man, while a foreign Samaritan cares for him.

Christ implies true godliness manifests itself in serving others, not pious words alone. This famous story powerfully lives out Jesus’ ethic of compassion and solidarity with marginalized groups.

New Testament Teachings Against Greed

Do Not Take Advantage of Others

The New Testament contains many warnings against greed and taking advantage of others. Jesus taught that we should not exploit or defraud others, saying “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

The apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonians to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands…so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

He exhorted people to work honestly and fairly, telling the Ephesians “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).

The Bible condemns those who take advantage of the poor and vulnerable. God cares deeply for widows, orphans and foreigners, and His people are commanded to treat them justly (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). James declared that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

The prophets often railed against corrupt leaders who exploited the poor and took their goods and property (Isaiah 1:23, Ezekiel 22:29, Amos 5:11-12).

Pursue Righteousness Not Riches

Rather than seeking to gain riches, Jesus taught that His followers should pursue righteousness and rely on God to provide for their needs. In the Sermon on the Mount he said “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Our heart’s devotion should be towards heavenly, eternal things rather than temporary earthly wealth.

The Bible warns against those who seem godly but are motivated by greed. Paul wrote Timothy to warn him about false teachers who taught that “godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Timothy 6:5). Their love of money meant they had “wandered from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Our ambition should not be getting rich, but serving God faithfully and generously with what He has given us. As Paul said, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Love of Money is the Root of Evil

According to 1 Timothy 6:10, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. When we are consumed with becoming rich, it can lead us into destructive habits and harmful behaviors. Greed causes people to neglect their families, exploit others, and abandon their values in the relentless pursuit of wealth.

As Jesus asked, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). The lure of money can entrap us and cause us to stray from God’s ways.

The Bible gives many examples of how the love of money leads to evil. Balaam was willing to curse Israel in exchange for a reward of money and prestige offered by Balak, king of Moab (Numbers 22-24). Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16).

Ananias and Sapphira lied about money they received from selling property, leading to their deaths (Acts 5:1-11). According to Ecclesiastes 5:10, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”

The endless desire for more and more riches leads to deceit, jealousy, greed and exploitation.

Taking a Stand Against Modern Exploitation

Wage Theft

Wage theft has become a huge issue in recent years, with unscrupulous employers finding ways to deny workers their rightful wages. This could include not paying proper overtime rates, making employees work off the clock, or simply not paying workers for time worked (Economic Policy Institute).

As followers of Christ, we must stand against such injustice and deception in the workplace. The Bible clearly teaches that employers must pay a fair wage (Jeremiah 22:13, James 5:4). One study estimates that wage theft costs U.S. workers over $15 billion per year (EPI).

As Christians, we can advocate for stronger legal protections, report abuses, and ensure that we deal fairly with those who work for us.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a horrific abuse of human rights happening right under our noses. There are an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern slavery globally, with 24.9 million in forced labor (International Labour Organization). As Christians, we must open our eyes to this injustice and take action.

We can pray for victims, donate to anti-trafficking organizations, volunteer, advocate for stronger laws and enforcement, report suspicious activities, and be wise, ethical consumers. Companies should also take steps to prevent forced labor in their supply chains.

Together, we can follow the Bible’s call to “loose the chains of injustice” and set the oppressed free (Isaiah 58:6).

Predatory Lending

Predatory lending practices such as payday loans trap vulnerable people in cycles of debt, charging outrageously high interest rates. In fact, the average annual percentage rate on payday loans is a whopping 391% (CFSA report)!

This directly contradicts Bible verses condemning usury and profiting from the poor (Exodus 22:25, Ezekiel 18:13). As Christians, we should steer clear of exploiting people through such loans and advocate for just lending laws.

We can also financially support ministries providing financial counseling and interest-free loans to the poor. If you are struggling with debt, seek help from a reputable non-profit credit counseling agency.

The Bible says that the borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), but God can provide an escape.

Environmental Injustice

Low-income and minority communities often suffer disproportionately from pollution, toxic waste dumps, and other environmental hazards. For example, a 2022 study found that non-White school districts are three times more likely to be affected by lead in drinking water (U.S. News).

The Bible calls us to defend the vulnerable and seek justice for the oppressed (Psalm 82:3-4). As Christians, we should advocate for equitable environmental policies and demand that polluters be held accountable.

We can also support green jobs initiatives and pollution cleanup efforts in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Our faith calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). We must ensure that no community is sacrificed for the convenience of those with more power or wealth.


In conclusion, the Bible contains a consistent message condemning the exploitation of others for unfair gain and upholding the rights and dignity of all people, regardless of status or advantage.

Followers of Christ are exhorted to stand against systems and practices that abuse and marginalize people created in God’s image. Christians should lead the way in promoting justice, generosity and advocacy for the vulnerable in the face of modern exploitation.

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