Jesus stated very plainly that only those who were faithful in the use of money would get spiritual riches (Luke 16:11). The reason for the spiritual poverty of many brothers and sisters is their unfaithfulness in the use of money. This is also one of the reasons for the lack of anointing in the messages being preached by many people nowadays.
All believers must first of all learn to obey God’s command in Romans 13:8 to “owe nothing to anyone.”
The Bible does not say “Do not borrow”. It is not a sin to borrow money, if you have an emergency-need. But you must return the loan as soon as possible – because it is a sin to remain in debt. “The borrower is a slave of the lender” (Prov.22:7). And God does not want any of His children to be slaves to any man. So everyone must clear their debts as soon as possible, even if this is done a little at a time. God sees whether you have a willing heart to obey His Word, even if you have very little to pay in each instalment, to clear your debt (2 Cor.8:12).
If you have a loan that has been in existence for more than six months, then you should add the prevailing annual bank interest on the loan also, to the amount, when returning it (as Zaccheus did – Luke 19:8). That is the righteous thing to do.
All elders are responsible before God to teach their church-members to live lives free from debt. Believers must not be allowed to remain living with the sin of debt any more than they should be permitted to remain living with the sin of adultery!
(Note: A house-mortgage (loan) or a car-loan (or scooter-loan) cannot be considered as a debt, because there is a house (or a vehicle) to show for the loan – that covers the cost of the loan. Even a business-loan may be considered permissible in some cases – if it is for a business that is making a profit. But many believers who have no business-ability have gone into debt for many years, because they tried to start a business without considering their own lack of business-ability and the market-conditions. All believers should consult some godly older brother, before they plan to take any large business-loan.)
Credit-card debt is a very serious debt, because it can increase very quickly. Believers must be taught to use a debit-card in preference to a credit-card. If they do use a credit card, then they must pay off their credit-card-debt every month . If they miss this repayment even for one month , then they must discipline themselves, to NOT use their credit card, until they have cleared their debt fully. God will honour those who deal radically with debt like this. We should never buy any expensive item on credit. We should first save up the needed money and only then buy the item. That is the way Jesus would have done it.
Most debt is the result of covetousness and an un-disciplined way of living and spending.
All believers must save up some money every month . To do this, they must cut down their monthly expenditure and not attempt to live at a higher standard than they can afford – imitating others around them who may be living at a higher level. They should not waste money on unnecessary purchases or by throwing lavish parties for their friends. A lot of parties are thrown ONLY to get honour from friends (and this is a form of idolatry). Hospitality should be practised only within the limits of your family’s financial ability.
To save up money for your family’s future needs is far more important than getting a reputation in the church for hospitality. The Bible says that fathers must save up money for their children (2 Cor.12:14b). Trusting God for your needs does not mean that you ignore saving up money for your family. The Bible commands us to go to one of the smallest creatures on earth (the ant) and to learn some wisdom from it. The ant, knowing that difficult times will come in winter, stores up food in summer (See Proverbs 6:6-11). We must learn from that ant to save up for unexpected expenses in the future. It is amazing that that tiny brain of an ant has more wisdom in it than the huge brains of most human beings!!
It is very expensive nowadays to give an education to our children and to give medical treatment for our families. We must therefore save up money for that. If you don’t do that now, you may end having to beg from other believers to help you. The Holy Spirit has said that any believer who does not provide for his family’s needs is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim.5:8). In many cases, the wife (because she is not the wage-earner) may be spending money lavishly, because she does not have any idea about the family’s financial situation. Husbands should explain the family’s financial state to their wives and say “No” to any expenditure that the family cannot afford, so that their families can have some savings for future expenses. Such savings can definitely be made in EVERY home – if only the family will practise some financial discipline and cut down on their expenditure every month.
As we approach the end of time, we have to be more and more careful in spending money. We do not trust in “uncertain riches”. Our trust is in our heavenly Father alone (1 Tim.6:17). But we must remember that the promise that “God will supply all your need” (Phil.4:19), will be fulfilled only if we have obeyed God’s Word and learnt from the ant (as above), and earnestly sought God’s kingdom first – not otherwise (Matt.6:33).
I am preaching only what I have practised for all my 59 years as a believer and for all the 50 years of my married life. We have never borrowed any money or been in debt even for a single day to anyone. Even in the early days of our marriage, when we were very poor, we obeyed Romans 13:8 strictly and never got into debt. And we always sought to live according to Matthew 6:33, seeking God’s kingdom first. And our heavenly Father has provided all our earthly needs always. In addition He has also given me amazing spiritual riches. So today, I can boldly say to every believer, “Follow me – in this area of living within one’s income and being free from debt, as commanded in God’s Word”.
Some believers do not repay their loans even when they have enough money to repay it. Such believers are totally irresponsible and are behaving like unbelievers. Sometimes they may even be hoping that the lender has forgotten about the loan! Such believers are totally ungodly and evil.
What shall we do about Jesus’s command to “give to everyone who asks of you…..and lend, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:30)?
We must never take one verse of Scripture all by itself. When Satan quoted one verse to Jesus saying “It is written”, Jesus replied saying, “It is also written….” (See Matt.4:6,7). So the whole truth of God’s Word is found NOT in “It is written” alone, but in “It is written” and “It is also written”.
So when we read “Give to everyone who asks of you…..and lend, expecting nothing in return”, we must remember that it is also written that “Everything on the earth belongs to the Lord" (1 Cor.10:26). That means that the money you earn and that you have in your bank-account and all your property – all of it – belongs to the Lord and not to you. So when you are thinking of giving or lending some money to someone, you should go to the Real Owner of that money (the Lord Jesus) and get a clear order from Him to give the money to that person. Only then should you give it. But if you act as if the money you have is your own, and decide to do whatever you feel like, with it, then you will get into many financial problems. All money on the earth is the Lord’s money. Nothing is ours. So, always ask Him and get a clear order from Him, before you give or lend money to anyone.
When you seek the Lord seriously like that, He may at times tell you to give money to someone; and at times He may tell you not to give the money – depending on what He sees in the heart of the person asking for the money. That way, you will be protected from deceivers.
May the Lord help us all to walk in Jesus’ footsteps in this very important area of financial discipline.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon