A black and white photo captures a person's hand reaching out to take coins from the open palm of a vulnerable individual, symbolizing the immoral act of exploiting others, as warned by the Bible.

What Does The Bible Say About Taking Advantage Of Others?

The Bible has a lot to say about how we should treat others. One clear principle that emerges is that followers of God should not take advantage of or exploit other people for their own gain or profit.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible clearly teaches that taking advantage of others is wrong. Christians are called to love others, care for the vulnerable, and conduct business with integrity and honesty.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we will take an in-depth look at various Bible passages that prohibit taking advantage of others. We’ll examine the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and Old Testament wisdom literature. Key principles will be identified and practical applications suggested.

This comprehensive study will equip the reader with a thorough understanding of the Bible’s stance on using others for selfish gain.

Teachings of Jesus on Exploitation

The Golden Rule

One of Jesus’ most well-known teachings is the Golden Rule, found in Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This profound ethical principle encourages us to treat others the way we would want to be treated.

If we don’t want to be exploited or taken advantage of, we should be careful not to exploit others.

The Good Samaritan

In the famous parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus told the story of a man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the road. First a priest and then a Levite saw the man but passed by on the other side without helping him.

Finally, a Samaritan man stopped to help the victim, bandaging his wounds and taking him to an inn to recover. Jesus’ point was that our “neighbor” includes even those different from us or considered outsiders.

Rather than exploiting the misfortune of others, we should have compassion and help those in need.

Jesus and the Money Changers

One of the few times we see Jesus angry is when he drove out the money changers and merchants from the temple, as they were profiting from people’s religious observances (Matthew 21:12-13). Jesus accused them of turning God’s house into “a den of robbers.”

This act of righteous anger shows Christ’s hatred of exploitation done under the guise of religion. Some key principles we can draw are that exploitation angers God, religious hypocrisy masks greed, and we should avoid profiting from others’ desire to worship God.

Guidance from the Apostles

Paul’s Instructions on Doing Business

The Apostle Paul provided important guidance to the early church on conducting business in a fair and ethical manner. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul condemned greed and taking advantage of others. He wrote, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Cor. 10:24).

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 your daily life may win the respect of outsiders” (1 Thess. 4:11-12).

He exhorted early believers to work hard, provide for their families, and avoid idleness.

Paul also addressed matters of employment and wages. In his letter to Timothy, Paul stated that elders who direct church affairs well should receive double honor or financial compensation (1 Tim. 5:17).

To the Ephesians, Paul admonished masters to treat their slaves justly and fairly, forgoing threats (Eph. 6:9). Paul’s writings reveal his concern for justice, hard work, and fair treatment in business and employment.

James’ Rebuke of the Rich

James had strong words for wealthy people who gained their riches by oppressing the poor. He wrote, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you…You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.

You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter” (James 5:1,5). James condemned the rich for defrauding laborers and hoarding their wealth. He asserted that the cries of the harvesters had reached the ears of the Lord Almighty (James 5:4).

James instructed the rich to start living more ethically, stating, “The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you” (James 5:4). He urged them to stop luxuriating and start producing fruit in keeping with repentance (James 5:3, 7).

James’ strong critique of corrupt wealthy people upholding unjust business practices reveals God’s great concern for economic fairness and compassion for workers.

Peter’s Call to Shepherds

In his first epistle, the Apostle Peter addressed church elders and exhorted them to willingly shepherd God’s flock instead of seeking dishonest gain. He wrote, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Peter condemned leaders who serve primarily for financial motivations instead of a sincere desire to care for people.

Peter called these church leaders to lead by example instead of heavy-handed control. He urged them to humbly serve those under their care, just as Jesus exemplified servant leadership. Peter’s instructions provide an important biblical model for combating the urge to exploit a position of authority for monetary gain.

Leaders are to steward their influence justly and compassionately.

Lessons from the Old Testament

God’s Concern for the Vulnerable

The Old Testament shows God’s care and concern for vulnerable groups like the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed. God calls on His people to emulate His character by showing compassion and justice to those in need (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

Laws were established to prevent permanent poverty and the exploitation of the disadvantaged (Leviticus 25:35-43). God hears their cries and promises to rescue them (Psalm 82:3-4). This theme continues in the New Testament as well (James 1:27).

Avoiding Unjust Gain

God condemns gaining from others’ loss or misfortune, whether through violence, false accusation, bribery, or fraud (1 Samuel 12:3, Ezekiel 22:12). Deuteronomy warns against moving boundary stones, cheating in business, bribery, and interest to poor neighbors (Deuteronomy 19:14, 25:13-16, 27:17).

God cares about honesty, integrity, and fair treatment. Unjust gain may seem profitable but erodes societies and relationships. Generosity and care for those in need bring blessing (Proverbs 14:31).

Generosity, Not Greed

Greed, hoarding goods, and stinginess are roundly condemned in favor of open-handed generosity, especially to the poor and needy (Proverbs 11:24-26, 28:27, Isaiah 58:7-11). The Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) provided debt relief and recovery of ancestral lands as a check against greed.

Ruth and Boaz illustrate generosity amid vulnerability. Overall, the law and prophets promote compassion over selfishness or indifference. As God freely gave to Israel, He expects them to freely give to others.

The core lessons remain relevant today: promote justice and generosity, especially towards those in need. Avoid exploiting others for selfish gain. Uphold honesty and compassion in business and relationships. What benefits one at another’s unjust expense erodes community in the long run.

Freely sharing with others demonstrates God’s grace.


In summary, the Bible contains a clear call to resist taking advantage of others. Followers of Christ are to treat others with love, compassion and fairness. Business dealings should be conducted with integrity. The vulnerable should be protected, not exploited.

By living according to these biblical principles, Christians can avoid the sin of using others for selfish gain and instead love their neighbors as themselves.

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