Although credit card debt and loans are part of everyday vernacular in today’s society, scripture sometimes had harsh words for those who borrowed money.
“Scripture is very clear that debt can be enslaving and that the borrower is the servant to the lender,” said Russell Woodbridge, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
While the Bible never explicitly encourages incurring debt, Woodbridge said, “it strongly discourages taking on debt.”
Pedro Rosario, eastern North Carolina area director for Crown Financial Ministries, agrees.
“One of the things that keeps people from asking for help is pride instead of allowing the body of Christ to help in (these) situations,” Rosario said.
But many churches are slow in helping their members with finances, even though “giving goes up 70 percent in those who go through (the) 10-week biblical financial study.”
Rosario shares Malachi 3, Proverbs 28:27 and Matthew 25 as key passages on debt and possible curses.
Malachi deals with robbing God and emphasizes the importance of tithing. The verse in Proverbs shows that those who ignore the poor and do not give to them will receive “many curses” (NIV).
“What Christians need to realize is that we miss many blessings when we do not follow God’s financial principles,” Rosario said. “You can also look at Matthew 25 — Parable of the Talents — and see the third servant missed out on a blessing. The two other servants were blessed because of what they produced for the Master.”
The servant who buried the Master’s talent was stripped of the talent and was cast out “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:29).
An article from Crown Financial Ministries emphasizes debt elimination as a way to spread the gospel. Becoming financially sound makes better church members, better tithers, Rosario said.
Another Crown article said borrowing seemed to be “a consequence of disobeying God’s statutes of economics and principles of finance.”
Related verses include Deuteronomy 28:44-45 and Psalm 37:21.
Romans 13 tackles governing authorities and stresses the need to pay what is owed, and verse 8 says: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (NIV).
While paying debt and bills is important, this section in Romans emphasizes the heart of the person towards another.
“In everything (Crown has), we always present the gospel,” Rosario said. “The most important thing is the relationship with the Lord.”
Many people need to realize what God owns.
“We have to understand that God owns it all,” he said. “Our part is to be faithful stewards … because we will be accountable someday. That’s tough for a lot of people. It’s easy to say that God owns it all but it’s a lot tougher to live that.”
Financial health package
Across three issues of the Biblical Recorder and numerous postings online, the BR staff compiled stories dealing with financial health, budgeting, teaching children about money, stewardship issues, etc. For a complete list, click here.