This Christian Journey:


About Borrowing and Lending

Proverbs 17.18

by Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr., D.Min.

There are many things in our contemporary culture that are now accepted as normal and acceptable yet stand in stark contrast to the revealed will of God.  God has largely revealed His will within His written Word, the Bible.  Still, even born again Christians fail to recognize the supreme wisdom of our Lord which, if diligently obeyed, always leads to contentment and fulfillment.   

Many Christians fail to glean the many blessings provided by their Heavenly Father to those who love and obey Him, because they just do not realize that they stand in opposition to His divine will.  How could they not know?  They don’t know because they have never read nor been taught the principles that they are violating.  These are sins of ignorance.  None-the-less they are still sins and rebellion, and sin always causes a separation between God and His beloved people. 

By the way, there is no real reason for anyone to be ignorant of the things of God.  All a person has to do is open their Bible, read it, study it, memorize it and meditate upon it.  This is why a Christian should read their Bible everyday and should read the whole Bible every year.  By reading your whole Bible annually, you will have the best opportunity for God to manifest all of His revealed will to you.  If you only read portions of the Bible, and read it at irregular intervals, then you open yourself up to the possibility of living outside of the will of God, because you have never really discovered the whole of His will in the first place. 

The culture of the world around us lives in a condition that is quite far from God.  This does not mean that everyone in our culture is morally bad, but it does mean that those things that are common and acceptable to our culture may be very much opposed to the heart of our Heavenly Father.  Since we all began life and live a portion of our life as children of this world rather than as children of Almighty God, then we must understand that there are likely to be things in our life that are normal and acceptable to us by our traditions and upbringing but are unacceptable to our newly-found Lord and Savior.  The question is: who are you going to trust, and who are you going to live for?  Will it be a world that may momentarily fulfill some of your desires but will leave you all alone in the end or a Heavenly Father who will never leave you nor forsake you and who sacrificed the very best that heaven had to offer to prove to you how much He loves you. 

Borrowing and Lending In Our Contemporary Culture 

Our personal and corporate (Church) finances is just one of these issues.  Our world and our culture have developed a way of handling financial issues that seems to work well for its purposes but may lead us to accept methods that are very much opposed to the revealed will of God.  In our world, we have become very accustomed to borrowing and lending (debt).  We consider debt as a normal part of our lives and personal finances.  Many Christians may not realize God actually has had a lot to say about borrowing and lending in the Bible.  

It probably should be noted that God is not so much opposed to borrowing and lending, but rather, He is opposed to borrowing and lending on interest.  There are two common words used in the King James Bible that denote interest; these are usury and surety.  There is nothing wrong with straight-out borrowing a tool or a cart to get some task done and then returning it.  There is also nothing wrong with straight-out borrowing money and then returning it with no interest.  The only problem is that when you borrow anything, whether for interest or not, you become bound to the lender until your promise is fulfilled.  The Bible says it this way: 

Prov 22.7 The rich ruleth over the poor , and the borrower [is] servant to the lender .   

If you borrow a hand drill, then you are obligated to the owner of the hand drill until it is acceptably returned to him.  If anything should happen to the hand drill while it is in your hand, then you must either repair it or replace it so that it can be acceptably returned to its owner.  This is generally the unspoken understanding in our culture today among our older generation.  However, there seems to be some doubt about whether our younger generations hold to this same position.  Regardless, the borrower, even when interest is not involved, is always bound to the lender until the obligation is fulfilled. 

When we place this principle in the light of our personal finances or the finances of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to realize that: 

Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Our Lord intends for us to serve Him with all of our hearts and minds (Rom 12.1-2).  He calls us to be completely sold-out and surrendered to Him in every regard.  Should our Lord call us to leave immediately on some arduous journey to deliver some people in bondage, as He did Moses, He expects us to go in obedience to His calling.  Moses went.  Yes, he tried to talk his way out of the task and journey, but he obeyed and went.  However, if you are bound up in debt, whether interest is involved or not, then you are entangled with your promises, and you cannot go until you have made yourself free form your bondage (debt).  You see, you cannot serve two masters.  If you will be obedient to God and you are bound up in debt, then God is not really your master.  Mammon has become your master.  Hence, in order to be truly free to obey your Heavenly Father, you must get out from under your bondage of debt. 

Christians must be consistently reminded that God expects you keep your word even if it turns to your own hurt (Prov 15.5).  Whenever you borrow anything, for any reason, you obligate yourself to the lender.  Hence, the children of God ought to be extremely careful about entering into any long-term debt.  Paul said it this way: 

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  

Borrowing a tool for a couple of days is as harmless as the responsibility that accompanies the tool but entering into some long-term obligation potentially robs one of their ability to be submissive and responsive to their Lord. 

Borrowing On Interest 

Interest in association with debt is as common in our culture as drinking water.  Larry Burchett once noted, a few years ago, that the average credit card debt for American households was in the range of $20,000.00.  This does not include a mortgage payment, car payment or other payments.  That’s just astronomical!  Debt has become so common place in the average home that it has become a given in the Church house as well.  Church members now look at interest debt as a normal part of life.   

God is very clear in the Bible about usury and surety, which is interest in our day.  Notice what is recorded in: 

Prov 6:1 My son , if thou be surety for thy friend , [if] thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger ,  2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth , thou art taken with the words of thy mouth .  3 Do this now , my son , and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend ; go , humble thyself, and make sure thy friend .  4 Give not sleep to thine eyes , nor slumber to thine eyelids .  5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand [of the hunter], and as a bird from the hand of the fowler .   

A snare is a trap.  Those who become surety, or enter into interest debt, are trapped by their own words.  God reveals what the end of this agreement will be.  God says, in essence, you will keep your word; you will work off your debt in full.  Hence, when any one of God’s children enters into a debt, they need to do whatever it takes to meet their obligations.  This is why God said: 

Prov 11.15 He that is surety for a stranger shall smart [for it]: and he that hateth suretiship is sure. 

It is impossible to miss the message in this verse of Scripture.  If you want to have confidence in life, then hate debt.  If you enter into a debt, know that it will eventually sting like salt in an open wound.  Notice what else God says about interest: 

Prov 17.18 A man void of understanding striketh hands , [and] becometh surety in the presence of his friend .   

The statement “void of understanding” is very much like calling someone a fool.  It cannot be pleasant for our Heavenly Father to look at any of His children and regard them as fools or as ignorant children.  Every parent knows of those times when they have warned their children, based on their past experiences, only to have their words of wisdom fall on deaf ears.  We born again Christians need to listen to the eternally wise words of our Heavenly Father. 

Ezekiel wrote, in prophetic Scripture, of what the just and obedient man would be like.  Read this passage of scripture carefully: 

Ezek 18.4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father , so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth , it shall die .  5 But if a man be just , and do that which is lawful and right ,  6 [And] hath not eaten upon the mountains , neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel , neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife , neither hath come near to a menstruous woman ,  7 And hath not oppressed any , [but] hath restored to the debtor his pledge , hath spoiled none by violence , hath given his bread to the hungry , and hath covered the naked with a garment ;  8 He [that] hath not given forth upon usury , neither hath taken any increase , [that] hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity , hath executed true judgment between man and man ,  9 Hath walked in my statutes , and hath kept my judgments , to deal truly ; he [is] just , he shall surely live , saith the Lord GOD . 

It is curious to note that through Ezekiel, God turns the tables on interest a bit.  Our Lord reveals that it is not only wrong to borrow on interest, but it is also wrong to lend on interest.  A couple of chapters later Ezekiel records: 

Ezek 22.12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood ; thou hast taken usury and increase , and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion , and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD .   

Here, God connected greed and extortion with interest-bearing debt.  This sheds new light on one of my favorite Scriptures: 

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

It is our lack of contentment with what our Heavenly Father has given us and our lack of a willingness to wait on our Heavenly Father to give us those things we desire that leads us into interest bearing debt in the first place.  This is clearly a driving factor in our culture today.  People want what they want, and they want it right now.  Hence, they are willing to enter into debt to fulfill their purposes rather than to wait on God’s provision to fulfill His purposes.  Through interest-bearing debt, we have become the lord’s of our own circumstances and provisions.

Nehemiah gives us another lesson in interest-bearing debt.  Read and consider this passage carefully:

 Nehemiah 5:1-13 1 And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews. 2 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live. 3 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. 4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards. 6 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words. 7 Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them. 8 And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. 9 Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies? 10 I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury. 11 Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them. 12 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. 13 Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise.

Consider that Nehemiah became very angry when he heard these peoples’ complaint.  These people were literally starving, and the rich among them took advantage of their circumstances.  They borrowed just to eat and survive.  Nehemiah had a different solution to the evil that was taking place among these people.  He literally ordered the rich to forgive the debts completely.  Part of the point in this passage is that debt, regardless of how it is entered into, makes the borrower the servant of the lender and should be avoided at all costs.

God's Abiding Presence

 Just what does it take for a born-again Christian to walk near unto their Lord?  Is it possible that debt could somehow influence our relationship with our Heavenly Father?  Consider this passage of Scripture:

Psalms 15:1-5 1 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. 3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. 4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. 5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Simply put, if you give your word in a contractual obligation, you should keep you word. If you can avoid interest bearing debt, or any debt at all, then you will be free to serve your Heavenly Father in complete and total submission and surrender.

To surmise what it is hoped that this study has helped you to discover: 

  • The borrower is the servant of the lender; God wants us to be His servants alone.

  • Interest is a trap for the borrower, and God expects for you to meet your obligations.

  • Interest reflects the greed of the lender and the borrower.  God expects us to help one another expecting nothing in return.

  • The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ needs to rest in the provision and timing of our Lord and be content with what He provides.

Your comments regarding this article are always welcome.