Is Debt a Sin?

No it isn’t. I find no evidence in the Bible that debt is a sin. But, that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy that new car just yet. The Bible does have a ton to say about debt and it never mentions it in a good light.

The verse that immediately comes to mind is Proverbs 22:7

The rich ruleth over the poor; And the borrower is servant to the lender. ASV

Some translations use the word slave instead of servant but the point is once you go into debt you are now owned by someone else. This ownership will change your money priorities. It is possible that you will no longer be able to do what the Lord wants you to because your actions are now controlled by the needs of maintaining your debt. Debt is a more terrifying proposition when put into these terms.

The next verse I want to look at discusses how to decide if you should take on the burden of debt:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Luke 14:28 ASV

You need to have a solid plan in place of how your going to pay off your debt before you should ever take any on. Like I’ve said, the decision to borrow money is not one that should be made lightly. Life happens and when it does you need to have a plan to make sure you can finish what you’ve started. I recently received a letter from my bank letting me know that I could apply for a personal swing loan. I could be approved for up to $15,000. As I read the letter one thing kept coming to mind. The way they were marketing this product was as an emergency fund. This was very frustrating to me because an emergency fund is not a loan. It is cash on hand that you might need someday during an emergency.

There are many more verses that we could look at but the last one I will mention for the purposes of this article is a well known verse from Matthew.

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

Keeping up with the Joneses is tiring and will inventively lead to out of control spending and debt. One of the hardest things to do in life is learning to be content with what you already have. It is something we will never be perfect at but we have to constantly strive toward that goal and not the goal of keeping up with the Joneses. It will not only help your pocket book but it will also help your relationship with God. Isn’t a stronger healthier relationship with God worth it? As a culture we need to stop striving for the latest, greatest, shiniest toy and instead look around at all we already have. We need to focus on the things that truly matter; your family, your friends and your Church. Remember, it was never your money to begin with. It was and always will be Gods’. Your only the steward of it while your here on earth and you will not be able to take any of it with you anyways.

One of the most radical quotes I’ve ever seen about how we should handle our finances is by John Wesley. It is something that I fall terrible short of but strive every day to become better at.

“Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?”

This paints a completely different picture of what our world should be like versus we see around us. it goes completely against what our culture tells us to do. I believe this is something we should all strive for. So, to wrap this up I would approach debt this way. I would ask a serious of questions.

1) Is this purchase a need that is needed immediately?
2) Do I have a concrete plan to pay this debt off as quickly as possible?
3) Do I have a 12 month emergency fund saved up and a 50% down payment (25% for a home) available for this purchase?
4) What alternatives exist and have I sought council from someone far wiser than myself?

If after going through this checklist you still feel the purchase is necessary than you have to do what you feel is best. Otherwise figure out some other way to purchase the item without taking on any debt. Pray about it and always think long and hard about question number four. Seek out multiple opinions if necessary. Taking on debt is not a lighthearted activity. Just because debt is easily obtainable in our society, doesn’t mean you should run out and order some with a side of fries. This decision should never be taken lightly.

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