Friday, June 27, 2008

He Paid a Debt

"Speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent". This oft used motto is a baseline for doctrine and practices in churches of Christ and came out of the Restoration Movement in the 1800s. And yet on the subject of money, we are often very silent where the Bible speaks very plainly. Money is one of the top subjects in scripture. There's a ton of financial advice in Proverbs and Jesus spoke of it often. In church we rarely speak about anything other than the giving aspect of money. And the times we talk about being a good steward and giving unto Caesar are in the context of giving (because the giving is never enough). Here's a long list of scriptures that speak about money and finances.

One area where the Bible plainly speaks is on the subject of debt. The Bible never says that debt is sinful, but it strongly condemns the use of debt as a bad way to do business. Depending on the translation, words like "foolish", "stupid", "lacking in sense", and "slave" are used to describe debt, the use of debt, and the relationships it creates.

Here are a few of the scriptures on debt:

Proverbs 22:7
"The rich rule over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender."
Proverbs 22:26-27
"Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts; if you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?"
Proverbs 17:18
"It's stupid to guarantee someone else's loan."
Proverbs 11:15
"He who is surety for a stranger will suffer for it, but one who hates being surety is secure."
And finally there's even advice on how to get out of debt:
Proverbs 6:1-5
"My son, if you have become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your own mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend; Go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird for the hand of the fowler."

Notice that it never says that going into debt is a sin. It just says it is foolish and will take your very bed from under you.

We have churches going deeply into debt for new facilities, pastors encouraging people to use their credit cards to pay their offering, churches asking members to personally sign for the church's debt, and Christians everyone living the good life on credit cards, HELOCs, and car fleeces.

Jesus came not just to pay our debt for the redemption of our souls, he came to show us the best way to live. We're more than willing to condemn others for drinking or smoking or carousing or missing church services, but when it comes to finances we rarely insert ourselves into our brothers' and sisters' lives. The weight of debt can be as burdensome as addictions and guilt of sin. It can destroy marriages and wreak havoc in every area of our lives.

What a wonderful opportunity for outreach and showing God's love and His purpose for our lives. If we teach our children, neighbors, and fellow Christians God's way of handling what he has given us then we spread not only his love, but a great deal of peace to a world greatly in need of both.
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