Debt is something that robs a lot of people of hope. According to Hal Lindsey, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.” Simply put, debt puts a peso sign on how much of your future you spent in the past.
After going through a debt problem myself for the many years of my adult life and eventually being free from its clutches, I made it a point to spend so much time telling others to get out of debt or at least manage their debt properly.
I have said time and time again the Bible is the best resource for wisdom on personal finance, among many others. But here is a huge “news flash” for you: With over 1,300 passages on wealth, the Bible is virtually silent on debt, at least to the borrower. Only ½ of one proverb tells us, “… the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Since no one wants to be a slave, enough said. How do you get out of debt? Simply put, you need to be a good steward of your finances. You may want to read my other posts on debt or pick up my book No Nonsense Personal Finance, there is a chapter there dedicated on getting out of debt.
The Bible, however, has considerably more to say to the lender, such as those whom have been entrusted with money are instructed to use it mercifully. Nothing drives this home like Jesus’ parable about the servant who, after being forgiven a fortune by the king, fails to pass that same mercy on to another servant. Instead, he chokes him and throws him into prison for a relatively minor debt (Matthew 18:21-25). Jesus tells this parable to Peter, who like us, probably thought he was being surprisingly generous by offering to forgive his brother up to seven times. But Jesus makes it very clear that this is just the start. Jesus’ teaching echoes many other encounters people had with him, like the woman who, having lived a life of sin, came to him at a Pharisee’s house and wet his feet with her tears, then kissed them and wiped them with her hair (Luke 7:36-48). Her response to Jesus was the exact opposite of the inhospitable Pharisee, who offered no welcome to his guest. Why? Because the one who has been forgiven little loves little. But the one who has been forgiven much loves much.
Where does that leave us? If you are a lender, them you need to be merciful. If you are a borrower, you need to be wiser.
So what if you’re one of the millions of people who are trapped by debt? I have great news for you. God, not money, is still your master.
Money might dictate when you serve, or where you serve, but it can never dictate who you serve.
Whatever your financial position, find comfort in this: “…the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good they do, whether … slave or free” (Ephesians 6:8).
(Randell Tiongson, RFP is an advocate of Life & Personal Finance. With nearly 30 years of experience in the Financial Service Industry – Banking, Mutual Funds, Insurance and Financial Planning, and Management Consultancy – he has become one of today’s most respected personal finance coaches in the country. Check out his website for more financial advice www.randelltiongson.com)