A daughter asks her mother, “Ma, how did you fix your credit so fast? Most people who go through bankruptcy take years to repair their credit. You are getting credit cards with decent credit limits and just ‘bought’ (financed) a new car.”
“I don’t really know. I can only call it a blessing from God.”
The daughter thinks, “Yeah, credit cards and financing a new car must be a blessing.”
–Wait a minute, is that right?…You get out of debt just to go back in it? Is that wise? Does God bless you with credit cards and car loans, or does he want us to strive to live debt-free?
Well, as long as I pay my credit cards off completely each month (and don’t carry a balance) it’s ok.
And what about financing a house? It would take forever to pay cash for a house (in some areas), geez… what about a car? Everyone needs a reliable car. It’s surely wise to take out a loan with the world for these things?”
These thoughts were floating in mind recently. I asked God for guidance. I studied the Bible. And I discovered…
Well, you will owe businesses, people or the government while you are on earth (for the most part). You need to pay your utilities, taxes, or whatever. You should pay authorities what you owe them (Mark 12:17) and pay everyone else. When you pay your utilities and such, you are paying for the services rendered, but borrowing money is something else.
Borrowing is not encouraged in the Bible, though God tells us to lend. In the old testament, God says if you lend to His people who are poor, you should not be like a creditor and don’t charge them interest. (Exodus 22:25). Jesus extended this interest-free loaning to all people, not just fellow believers. He said we are now to lend even to our enemies without expecting anything in return (Luke 6:35). We should give to those who ask, and do not turn away anyone who needs to borrow from us (Matthew 5:42). And if you do borrow money or anything else from someone, you should try your hardest to give it back (Psalm 37:21).
However, there is something to consider when one borrows money from secular financial lenders that claim to help people in need. They rip people off and make people pay way more than what the loan is worth. They all charge excessive interest in these modern times (rates are dependent on credit scores). God does not like lenders who rip people off (Proverbs 28:8)(Psalm 15:5)(Ezekiel 18:8), so in your time of need, will the Holy Spirit tell you to go to one of these establishments? Borrowing money from worldly lenders is needlessly participating in what they do.
Borrowing can also hinder or block a blessing from God because it usually involves a lack of faith and patience. This is even true when you borrow money for a house, school, or a car. You are telling God: I need this now–not in 15 years or 5 years or whenever I save up enough money for it. Instead of waiting for God to provide, you take it upon yourself to get what you want. This is the opposite of what we are taught in the Bible (Psalm 27:14).
We need to trust God with our finances. Though he may allow us to take out loans just like he allows people to do a lot of things; that does not mean He is happy or agrees with your decision. The Bible says you become a slave to a lender (Proverbs 22:7). Taking out loans is becoming willing slave to the secular institution. Remember that God knows you need shelter, transportation, food, and clothes (Matthew 6:8). Have faith that God knows better than you, no matter what yourself or society tells you.
You are also predicting the future when you take on credit card, school, home, or car loan debt. You are contractually promising lenders you will pay something you may not be able to pay back. It’s a risk. Do you know what’s going to happen? Only God knows all (James 4:13-15). One might think everyone predicts the future, like when you tell a friend, “I’ll see you Monday” on Saturday. Well, they should say ‘God willing,’ but most people understand that you may not see the person.
If you have an emergency, it would be wise to talk to God about your problem and wait for His direction. Then, make sure it is Him talking. If you borrow from someone, it should be from within your eternal family. You should not have to promise to pay him or her back this day or month. A mature sister or brother in Christ will not ask you to sign a strict paper or treat you like a creditor would, as they are lending expecting nothing in return. And even though they may refuse your payment and forgive your debt (Matthew 6:12), you should still try to pay him or her back if you get it. Or offer to work to pay off your debt (this is similar to the slavery in the New Testament). You can also ask your church for help. Tell the leaders about your financial difficulties. The church should collect an offering and assist during your time of need (if they don’t already have a fund for this).
If your need does not seem like an emergency, maybe you should reconsider if you need a loan or financial help in the first place. Borrowing should not be a normal thing for a Christian as it is with the world. If you go back in time, you will see that mortgaging a house was a sign of poverty and something people did when they were going through extremely difficult times. Today, the world paints presumed debt in pretty colors to trick people.
I think part of the problem stems from redefining the word ‘affordable.’ It used to be, if you can pay for it, then you can afford it. (Of course, even if you have the money, it may not be wise to buy some things) Now, it’s if you can finance it, and afford the monthly payment, you can afford it. Lenders are telling people they can afford something they simply cannot; it’s a lie.
Sadly, most people are living well above their actual means. From my perspective, it seems there are still only two classes of people on earth: rich & poor. Middle class is an illusion. Someone told people they were not really poor and could afford something because someone will give them the money at a cost. This messes up the economy and makes it harder for people to afford things and gives way to inflation. Christians should not make it harder to buy things.
You might be thinking… Well, what am I supposed to do about a house? I want to be a homeowner, now. I don’t want wait and save for 5 or 10 years. That’s something we need to surrender to God.
Maybe He wants you to move to a more affordable state, maybe not. Maybe He will work something out for you right where you are (if he needs you there). Perhaps you can buy land and build your house, slowly. Many people are building houses with natural & recycled materials from $0 – $10,000. Maybe you can do a month-to-month rental for now, be frugal, and save as much as your income as you can. Only God knows. But you can ask Him for direction.
And it may be wiser to buy a good used car. When you think about it, for the price of one new car, you could buy 10 used cars. But you may find a deal on a new car if you search. Though it wasn’t the prettiest car on the lot, I saw a brand new eco-friendly car for $5000 with a 10 year warranty.
If you do not have the cash for this, you may need to take the bus for a while until you can save up money for the car & possible and required expenses. If you are not close to public transportation, maybe you should consider working from home and taking a taxi every now and then when you need to. Or, maybe you should just walk if you can do so.
When we lost our car a few years ago, we got around by occasionally renting a car when we needed to, peer-to-peer ridesharing, taxis, and walking more than anything. God blessed us to do most of our walking on a beautiful, scenic trail. And, even though we bought a (classic, appreciating) vehicle, we mostly walk and only use the car when necessary for business, etc.
If you want to do it God’s way…
You should be putting money aside (Proverbs 13:22) (Proverbs 6:6-8), and most importantly giving where God leads (Proverbs 21:26) (Proverbs 28:27) (Deuteronomy 16:17) (Luke 6:30) (Acts 20:35) etc… And leave things in His Hands as those are the best hands.
Christians shouldn’t do everything the world does. Worldly wisdom & Biblical Wisdom do not play well together. We must be careful, and use discernment with everything, even if it’s something we’ve been taught is okay.
As mentioned above, you should be a giver more than anything. If you have borrowed, you should strive to pay it back, whether you borrowed from a Christian or the world. And your goal should be to rid yourself of owing anybody, anything.
God’s Peace & Love,