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 you 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.
It does not seem like borrowing is always wrong. 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). And Jesus followed that up by saying we are now to lend 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, a problem arises when you borrow from secular lenders that claim to help those who are less fortunate. They rip people off and lend at interest, which will make you pay more than what the loan is worth. God does not like lenders who rip people off (Proverbs 28:8), so in your time of need, would the Holy Spirit guide you to one of these establishments? Borrowing from worldly lenders is needlessly participating in what they do (like earning interest on a savings account when you know they ripped people off, and you go ahead and profit off of it, too (Proverbs 22:16). I hope to expound on this a little more in another financial post about Christian investing/saving).
Borrowing may also hinder or block a blessing from God; it is a lack of faith and patience. This is even true when you borrow for a house, school, or a car. You are telling God: I need this now–not in 30 years or 10 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).
You need to allow God to provide for you in the way He wants, and it may be through someone. Though he allows us to fall on hard times sometimes, the Holy Spirit won’t lead you to become a slave to a worldly lender (Proverbs 22:7), but yourself or the enemy will definitely lead you to this. He already knows you need shelter, transportation, food, and clothes (Matthew 6:8).
You are also predicting the future when you take on credit card, school, home, or car debt. You are promising lenders that you will pay something you may not be able to pay back. It’s a huge risk. You don’t know what’s going to happen; only God knows all (James 4:13-15).
If you ever have an emergency, it would be wise to talk to God about your problem, and seek His direction. If you choose to borrow from someone, it should be from within your eternal family. You do 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 paper or treat you like a creditor would, as they are lending expecting nothing in return. And even though they will probably refuse your payment, you should still try to pay him or her back when and if you get it.
And if you are part of a Christian fellowship, as you should be, you should have no problem talking to your church about your financial difficulties. The church should collect an offering and help you 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 this presumed debt in pretty colors to trick people.
I think part of the problem stems from redefining the word ‘affordable.’ It use 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 an illusion.
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. It’s just someone told poor people they were not really poor and they 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 to save for 10 years. Trust me, I understand. But you need to let God handle that.
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 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,