After over 65 years of ministry, we have developed the top 27 questions people ask us so we would like to share these questions each week for our weekly blog and share the answers as a resource for you all to use in your ministry, churches, and family.
Top ? #20 What Does the Bible Say about Debt?
Answer: The Bible teaches that Christians should avoid being in debt as much as possible and if they are in debt they should try to pay it off as soon as possible.
We live in an age in which getting oneself hopelessly in debt is very easy. We are bombarded with pre-approved credit cards, people are calling each day offering lower interest rates on loans, etc. Our economy is driven by consumer credit and households living deep in debt. Very few people take the time to see the Bible’s instructions regarding borrowing money.
In the Old Testament God forbid the Israelites from charging interest to fellow countrymen knowing the burden it could place on the poor of the land (Leviticus 25:35-38). God also made provision for debts to be cancelled every seventh year (Deuteronomy 15:1-11). He understands that when a large segment of the population is chronically in debt that there will be serious consequences to the society as a whole.
God reminds us of an obvious principle in Proverbs 22:7 which says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender.”
There are no such prohibitions against charging interest in the New Testament. Neither is there any protection for the poor that get too far in debt such as the year for canceled debt. However, the Lord gives wise advice to avoid debt.
Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
One of the main reasons people go into debt is so they can obtain more and more possessions. We are told that such desire for material things is a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). We are sinning when we give material things a higher priority than our love of God and service to Him.
God has promised us that He will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19) and instructs that we should be happy with what we have.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Timothy 6:6-8.
By living according to some basic biblical principles it is possible for most Christians to live debt-free lives. There will be times when debt cannot be avoided such as when a family has unexpected medical expenses or some other similar hardship hits them. However, we can be assured that God will provide for our needs in such cases. The Christian should be committed, however, to paying off those obligations despite the fact that they did not incur the debt voluntarily.
There are some cases where taking out loans are legitimate, such as home mortgages or student and business loans. However, Christians should do all they can to avoid going into debt simply to indulge their personal desire for possessions or an extravagant lifestyle.
Please read the following verses: Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 4:4; Proverbs 22:26-27