Hope for your financial life and beyond

FACT: The Rich Rule Over the Poor and the Borrower is Slave to the Lender ― Proverbs 22:4

The society we live in today revolves around being in and remaining in debt. Don’t believe me? In the early 1900s, most people owned their house with no mortgage

what does the bible say about debtIt wasn’t until after WWII that debt became a more popular way to make purchases when loan requirements were loosened and lenders became protected by federal law. When the opportunity for mortgages expanded, debt went through the roof. 

At the beginning of 2020, more than 50% of Americans make just enough money to pay their bills each month. If something were to happen and they missed a paycheck, some of their bills wouldn’t be paid that month. In fact, 40% of Americans can’t cover $400 in the case of an emergency.

The questions regarding debt that are the most important have nothing to do with what others are doing or thinking. For Christians, it is important to ask what the Bible says about debt

The four most important lessons the Bible teaches about debt are:

  • Debt is not forbidden in the Bible.
  • Being debt-free is praised in the Bible.
  • God regulates lending and borrowing.
  • God warns about debt and the dangers associated with it.

Debt Is Not Forbidden in the Bible

You can search through the entire Bible, but you won’t be able to find a verse that says you aren’t allowed to take on debt. It is something that is allowed, so it is not considered to be sinful if you take out a loan.

Not only is debt permitted by the Bible, but there are also practices, principles, and requirements that God gives, governing borrowing and lending. 

Being Debt-Free Is Praised in the Bible

There may not be any verses in the Bible that say you can’t take out debt, there are plenty of positive things to be said about having no debt. 

Related Content: How to Get Out of Debt and Win in 5 Simple Steps

Moses made it known that God made a promise to His people. This promise was that when His people obeyed Him, they would be blessed in all the work they do. 

One clear, specific example of His blessing is that His people would be “lenders, not borrowers.” There is a passage that says how the Lord would extend His treasure, the Heavens, and provide rain to the land.

It is said that if you follow Him, you will have plenty to lend, and you will not borrow.

This is God’s way of letting His obedient and faithful followers know that he will give them strength and provide for them.

God Regulates Lending and Borrowing

In his words to the Israelites, God had some very interesting words for both lenders and borrowers. Here are the key passages that outline how both should operate:

  • In Deuteronomy 29:19-20, 15:1, and 31:10, the people of God are instructed to lend money to strangers.
  • In Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:27, and Deuteronomy 23:19-20, the people of God were told not to lend money with any interest at all.
  • In Deuteronomy 24:10-11, there are limits on the amount of collateral to be taken. God required that mercy be had when reclaiming any collateral of those who did not repay their debt.
  • In Deuteronomy 15:1-2 and Numbers 30:2, there has to be an automatic debt cancellation after seven years. This is to make it clear that debt is not a sin.
  • Psalm 37:21 says that vows have to be honored. It says only the wicked will borrow and will not repay the debt, but that the righteous will have mercy and give anyway.
  • Proverbs 6:1-3 states that no person can take responsibility for someone else’s debt, whether they are a friend or a stranger.
  • Romans 13:8 states that you should never owe another man anything except to love one another. This verse is not exactly about borrowing any money, and should not be used as an argument when discussing whether the debt is prohibited by the Bible or not.

God Warns About Debt and Its Dangers 

There is a specific warning in the Bible about one danger of borrowing. Proverbs 22:7 states that the nature of the danger is that “the rich will rule over the poor and that the borrower will be a servant to the lender.”

Proverbs 22:7 is the only passage that discusses the dangers of debt. Christians are called to take this passage seriously. So, let’s dive a little deeper into the meaning.

Debt is an obligation that is limiting

Proverbs 22:7 makes it clear that debt is imposing an obligation on the borrower. Debt is limiting. It restricts income and may even cause the borrower trouble, but this does not mean they can stop repaying the debt. Debt creates limitations.

Debt causes trade-offs

The borrower has to make certain sacrifices to prioritize paying their debt. The Bible makes it clear that if a person takes on a debt, they have to be faithful and repay it. To pay the debt, other purchases may be put on the back burner for the time being.

Debt restrains generosity

One of the harmful effects of borrowing is that it might restrain the generosity one offers to those in need. Christians are called to serve the poor. Borrowing haphazardly can limit what Christians can offer those who might need our charity.

Related Content: How to Develop a Purposeful Plan for Giving Away Money

Conclusion

In our society, debt can control us. 

The average American’s debt is over $230,000. Once we get into debt, it is nearly impossible to get ourselves out, and it is even harder to admit to ourselves that our debt is a serious problem. 

We are going to spend our lives paying back the debt that we owe, which is why it is common for the borrower to be called the servant of a lender. God calls us to be responsible borrowers and not let our debts keep us from our obligations to treat each other with love and kindness.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: Do you think it is wrong to take on debt? How have you seen debt be a limiting factor in your own life? What are the steps you would tells someone to do if they wanted to get out of debt? 

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