The Old covenant people of God heard a second telling of God’s commands and purpose for them on the Plains of Moab before Moses died. Within those commands, there was a pronouncement of a remarkable blessing for them related to lending and borrowing. There is a principle to consider in that anticipated blessing spoken so many years ago:
“But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.”
Deuteronomy 15:4-6 ESV
My reason for bringing this forward is not to show that the land was given to these people, or how they disobeyed or obeyed the commands of God. I only wish to remind us of the connection between borrowing and lending which is found here.
The plain fact is that the God connects blessing to lending and loss to borrowing. The nation which is able to lend is, without question, in the stronger position. The nation borrowing either requires more than its income can provide, or desires more than it should. God states that a nation that is capable of lending but does not borrow will not be ruled by others, but the nation borrowing will be ruled by others. In our world today, there are concerted efforts and strategies among nations to lend money to weaken the borrowers and strengthen the lenders. For your interest, you may see our own country’s mounting national debt at the link provided below. It is alarming and dismaying.
But what about your debt?
In Proverbs 22:7 we see this simple idea principalized in the personal arena when we are warned that “the rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
I have often seen the devastating effects borrowing can bring, especially through credit card debt. I knew one man, not a believer, who almost lost his mind over 80,000 dollars in credit card debt. It was frightening to see. There are many ins and outs in this discussion about borrowing for believers. I have certainly seen believers suffer with some level of anxiety and discouragement because of debts incurred or when money is tight. I sat across the table from a young couple who finished a seminary degree but could not go to the mission field because of their debt — a disturbing outcome after years of education to prepare for this goal. Others appear to have little problem as they ignore the fact that they are paying twice or three times more for the privilege of using the bank’s money. Americans are very much used to bearing this weight. It often means that second incomes are pursued.
It’s no secret that there are dangers lurking for persons who are irresponsible borrowers. But it is always true in some measure that every borrower is the lender’s slave. I know that some people use borrowing to their advantage and I do not believe that the Scripture plainly forbids reasonable personal debt. For instance, the people of God in the Old Testament could lend to help people out, but without interest if Jewish. But much debt is not reasonable, such as in most student loans when one compares income with debt burden. Whatever apparent advantages, I don’t believe debt is presented in the Bible as a sign of blessing. For me, I would rather go the way most associated with blessing. The verses above may help you in your thoughts about debt, and may lead you into the journey to be entirely out of debt. Contrary to what many may think, there are ways to obtain an education, buy a house, start a business, provide for the needs of churches, develop ministries, that do not require debt. I’ve seen God do these very things. In our view, this is one way of blessing and the pursuit of it pleases God.
We’re hopeful for success whenever a believer commits to getting free of debt. We have often seen God helping such people in ways that were unexpected. At another time I would love to share how years ago God took a large church debt I inherited (70% of our income every Friday!) and delivered us from its bondage in a powerful way. And our only personal debt of a house mortgage was paid off in just over a year when we set our hearts to be rid of it years ago, and without asking anyone to help but our Father. That story still amazes me. One friend who was well over a million in debt caught this vision and very soon rebuilt his business without any debt, with the result that he was able to be a significant support for many ministries over the years in ways he could not have dreamed of before. God works in his own ways, but we have seen God’s encouragement in our experiences and in the lives of others we’ve helped. God often does remarkable and surprising things for those who desire to get out of debt if their longing is to serve him better and to give more generously.
You should pray and think about this. With God as your guide and supply, this may be one of the great experiences of your life, an exciting exploit of faith opening many doors of ministry to others. I hope you will do so.