Summary: Is it sinful to borrow money? Is it evil to declare bankruptcy? And why do so many people seem to be in financial trouble today?
OPEN: Years ago, I had a friend who attended a Bible Study at my home. He shared with our study that when he graduated from High School, he had a life goal. His life goal was to be a million dollars in debt before he reached the age of 30… and THEN he’d declare bankruptcy.
He said he was more than half way there when he became a Christian. As a Christian he realized that he had to responsibility for those debts and he’d just recently paid them all off.
Now, a couple of observations:
1st - Bankruptcy is not a shameful nor ungodly option. Our nation’s bankruptcy laws are loosely based on the Law of Moses.
Deuteronomy 15:1-4 says: “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.
(In the US a citizen can declare bankruptcy every 7 years).
This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow Israelite. He shall not require payment from his fellow Israelite or brother, because the LORD’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.
You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your brother owes you. However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you”
So, bankruptcy laws are in place to help when people get in over their heads. But my friend in the Bible study understood that he just gotten in over his head… he had deliberately incurred debt he had initially no intention of repaying. The words of Psalm 37:21 haunted him: “The wicked borrow and do not repay…” and so he fought to NOT go bankrupt.
So - first – bankruptcy is not a shameful or ungodly option.
In fact it is a Biblical way of dealing with debt that has gotten out of control.
2ndly – people have borrowed money for centuries - even in the Old Testament.
Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey. He and other financial teachers like him strongly stress that Christians should avoid debt and stay out of debt. And I totally agree with them.
But it’s important to remember that it’s not a sin for us to be in debt… it’s just a bad idea. If it were a sin to be in debt, God would have told the people of Old Testament Israel – “You’re in debt. Too bad. You get what you deserve.”
Instead, God made protecting those who’d gotten into debt part of His Old Testament Law. God did not forbid or condemn borrowing. He protected them when they got into trouble.
So, it is not a sin to borrow money.
It’s just a good idea to avoid debt.
God constantly sets before His people that being OUT of debt is where you want to be.
As our text this morning says: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
And Romans 13:8 echoes that by saying “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…”
God’s people CAN borrow money (it’s not immoral to do so).
BUT God’s people should repay their debts.
“The wicked borrow and do not repay…” Psalm 37:21
Why should we repay out debts?
1st because we’re children of God. If we owe the debt (if we borrowed the money) we’re honor to do everything in our power to pay it off.
BUT 2ndly (and perhaps more importantly) the reason we should pay our debts is because - as long as we’re in debt, we’re in slavery. My creditor OWNS ME. And God doesn’t want me to be owned by anyone but Him.
The problem for us as a nation is that we’ve gotten used to the idea that debt is a “good thing”. Before WWII, most people avoided debt whenever possible. But after that war, debt was used as a way of kick starting the economy. Home loans were made easily available. And gradually, over time, debt went from being something you did only if you had to… to being a state of being where we ought to be. Where we should be.
It became the NEW normal.
As a result the vast majority of our nation has gotten to the point where most people are in debt up to their ears.
ILLUS: I remember a repairman coming in to work on a water purification system at my last house. I’d originally bought the system from a local company, but they’d sold out to another company in a much larger nearby city.
So, here was this repairman from that city working on my water system. And I said
“You must really do a better business over in that city than here. It’s a bigger city, much more industry, and so on.”