Today we look at the concept of debt and the security given for the debt. “If you have nothing with which to pay,” don’t buy it.
This sounds so simple on its face. I wonder if the Israelites has to worry about paying for their houses and carts. For me and my family, I KNOW we could not afford to pay for a good car or even a cheap house without borrowing the money. Israel ‘inherited’ the land and chased the original inhabitants out. Did they take over their homes and goods? Did it cost them any money?
When a son is of age, he has to build a home for his new family. Was the cost limited to the materials or did he have to pay for property too? I always assumed that they were given a portion of their father’s land as their inheritance. So, did they need home loans?
God told Israel that IF the obeyed Him they would be lenders to many with no need to borrow (Deuteronomy 15:6). God also speaks about not charging ‘your brother’ a ‘usury fee’/interest when you lend to him (Deuteronomy 23:19). He also says that if you have a debt, to repay it (Romans 13:7-14). ALL these things suggest that there were debts in Israel.
In other places in God’s word, He talks about the ‘lender’ being a ‘giver’ instead. A gift is something you don’t have to repay. It’s not always spelled out in such glaring detail but it is implied in several verses. Proverbs 37:21 leans towards this idea. If it is a ‘gift’ then the one receiving the money has no expectation of being repaid. He has passed his items into the hands of another and holds no more control over them.
Earlier in Proverbs, Solomon tells us that the borrower is a slave to the lender. This is because the borrower is not free until the debt has been repaid. God took this into account when He gave the Law. The Year of Jubilee is the time that ALL debts are canceled and inherited property that was sold is returned. Even slaves and captives were freed during this year. It was kind of a ‘reset’ for the nation. This happened every 50 years. God also told Israel to cancel all debts to their brothers at the end of every seventh year. They could still collect debts from foreigners at that time, but NOT in the Year of Jubilee.
There are some religions that forbid their people from acquiring ANY form of debt. I do not hold to those beliefs. I don’t see it as a point that would put your salvation in jeopardy though. This may be something we have to take up with God. For THIS wise saying, I’m feeling that it is speaking more to the person who has dug themselves deeply into debt. If they have nothing but the cloak on their backs left to offer for security, they are in serious trouble! ALL that he has can be lost, even his ‘bed’, if he can’t pay the debt.
What about the person who is dug in so deep that they can’t see out? In bible times, that person would either sell themselves or be sold to pay their debts. In the early years of the United States of America we had Debtors Prisons where people were sent who couldn’t repay their debts. Now we have bankruptcy laws, debt reconciliation programs, collection agencies, garnishment of wages, and the courts who deal with these kinds of issues. As someone who has had to use one of these services, I can say with certainty, it is a humbling and humiliating experience. KNOWING that you got yourself in this situation is the hardest. If I had only listened to these wise words in the first place, I would have avoided the shame I felt.
I want to turn a moment to a different kind of ‘debt’. It doesn’t consist of money or goods. It is one of service. People often say “I am indebted to you” because of some act of kindness or assistance rendered. They are not saying they should pay the other person with money but with service in return. The Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner features a Moor who feels indebted to Robin of Loxley because Robin saved his life by freeing him from prison. Robin freed him of his debt but he wouldn’t accept freedom until he had saved Robin’s life in return. The debt was paid at the end of the movie.
There is another debt that we ALL owed. It was the debt for our sins. Jesus paid that debt for us. If we followed Robin’s Moor friend’s logic, we owe Jesus for this debt. We would be bound to Him until we were somehow able to repay that debt. But there is NO WAY we can ever repay Him. NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, WE FALL SHORT.
God knew this from the beginning. That is why God made the work Jesus did for us a “GIFT”. It is NOT something we have to repay before we are freed of our obligation. It isn’t something we can ‘work off’ somehow. It is a gift FREELY given to ALL who would accept it.
Because of the MAGNITUDE of this gift, we fall on our knees and honestly pledge service. Not as repayment but out of gratitude and love. We are NOT slaves when we accept God’s gift but are freed instead! And with that freedom I choose to honor Him who bought it for me.
Father God, THANK YOU for paying my debt! I am no longer a slave to sin. I am in awe of Jesus and all the freedom He has purchased for me. I know I have gotten myself into trouble with wanting more than I could afford. Sometimes that debt came from a lustful place (desiring things) and other times from a place of desperation (medical bills). YOU sustained me during ALL those times WITHOUT COST. Thank You for bringing me out of those times too.
I NEVER want to get deep in debt again! Help me have the right attitude about “things” instead of getting myself wrapped up in all the hype. Keep my sights on the things appropriate for me. NO pipe dreaming!