Summary: What does the Bible say about debt? The Bible says you should never carry any more debt than you can successfully pay for. We live in such a materialistic culture it causes people to borrow money they can’t repay.
I’ll invite you to open your Bibles with me to Romans 13:8. I am preaching through the book of Romans, verse after verse after verse. As I’ve said before, because I preach through the Bible verse after verse, we are forced to confront passages of scripture and principles we might otherwise miss.
A lady told me recently she liked my preaching, but she said seriously, “It’s too bad that your wife has been married before.” I said, “What?” She said, “Well, your wife has been married before.” I said, “Well, that’s news to me. I didn’t know she had been married before. I said, “What are you talking about?” She said, “I heard you say one time from the pulpit that the person in the church you have more trouble with is your wife’s first husband.” I said, “That’s me.” I am my wife’s first husband. Sometimes I’m not too clear in the way I communicate myself.
I’m glad the Bible is always clear. You never mistake understanding it. The problem we have with the Bible sometimes is obeying it, but it’s so clear, it’s hard to miss the meaning of it. I want us to begin reading in chapter 13:8. Today we’re going to talk about pay your debts and pay the debt of love that you owe.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt of love to one another. For he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments say: Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, they’re all summed up in this one rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Now, this morning I want to talk to you about three areas of debt you need to pay. One of them we’re going to hit quickly, because we studied it last week. We’ll talk about the other two.
I. YOUR PUBLIC DEBT (6-7): PAY YOUR TAXES!
First of all, consider your public debt. The scripture says pay your taxes. We’re to submit to the government; good Christians pay their taxes. You don’t evade your taxes. In fact, verses 6 and 7 tell us why. “For the authorities are God’s servants.” In other words, we’re to pay our taxes. Now, sometimes when people get all upset about something, they say, “Well don’t make a federal case out of it.” If you don’t pay your taxes, they’re going to make a federal case out of it. It is a federal case and a spiritual case. The Bible instructs us to pay our taxes, which is like paying our public debt.
II. YOUR PRIVATE DEBT (8a): PAY YOUR BILLS!
You’re also to pay your private debt. Consider your private debt; to do that, you pay your bills. Look at Romans 13:8. The first half deals with our personal financial debts. Look at it again. “Let no debt remain outstanding.” The King James Version says, “Owe no man anything.”
Now, are you aware there are some very sincere, well meaning Christians who have developed an entire financial philosophy around that one-half verse. They follow the philosophy that says you can’t borrow money or you shouldn’t borrow money for anything whatsoever. In fact, sometimes when churches are considering borrowing money, they say, “What about this verse, ‘Owe no man anything?’” Does the Bible indeed teach you cannot borrow money for anything? I don’t think so. In fact, I want us to notice two things the Bible says about debt or credit.
1. The Bible doesn’t forbid incurring debt
Nowhere in the scripture will you find any admonition saying you cannot borrow money. You say, “Well, pastor, is that your opinion?” I think it’s what the Bible teaches, but it’s also the opinion of very wise Christian leaders. I want to read three quotations substantiating this position, one from theologian Warren Wiersbe, one from pastor John MacArthur, and one from Christian economist George Bowman.
Warren Wiersbe writes:
The Bible does not forbid borrowing or financial transactions that involve paying interest. What the Bible does forbid is the charging of high interest, robbing the brethren or failing to pay your honest debts. No one should get into unnecessary debt or sign contracts he cannot maintain, but to make Romans 13:8 apply to all kinds of obligations involving money is stretching the point.
Dr. John MacArthur, a California pastor writes:
Jesus approved of financial borrowing for purpose of investment. Many families could never afford to buy a home without taking out a mortgage. When borrowing is truly necessary, the money should be repaid as agreed upon with the lender, promptly and fully.
Now, somewhere along the line, some Christians have gotten the idea borrowing and lending money is of the devil. Dr. George Bowman, a Christian economist, has written a book entitled, Here’s How to Succeed With Your Money. He talks about the place borrowing and lending plays in our United States economy. Frankly, I learned a lot from studying this book. Those of you who know more about money matters know what I’m about to read. It gave me a greater interest and appreciation for those of you in the banking industry. He simplifies the economy: