My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
3 then do this, my son, and save yourself,
for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
4 Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler. – Proverbs 6:1-5
God’s law does not prohibit the use of debt, nor does it encourage it. In fact, Biblical wisdom gives strong warnings to avoid it. One who goes into debt that presumes on the future is referred to as “lacking sense.”
And yet, American followers of Jesus do this every day. I think that in most cases it isn’t a matter of purposeful disobedience to the instruction of wisdom, but in ignorance of wisdom.
What is the real issue here? I think two things. 1. We are presuming upon the future when only God knows the future; 2. we want immediate satisfaction of our lusts and don’t trust God to meet our needs (or in this case maybe our excessive desires that will be consumed on our lusts).
God does have something to say about our haste to have what we want.
There is a non-Biblical proverb that fits well here, “Haste makes waste.”
Young adults just starting out in life should especially pay close attention to this wisdom. If you want to truly prosper over time and have a comfortable retirement in 40 or 50 years, don’t be one who lacks sense and gets into unwise debt. Think about student loans and your presumption about how they will be paid back. Think hard about a new car when you could pay cash for a clunker that will get the job done even if it isn’t cool.
If you are going to borrow money, be sure you have a guaranteed way to pay it back. Some loans accept collateral as the satisfaction for the loan; others are written to get satisfaction for any deficiency. That is, you could be responsible for any deficiency. Check your contracts for any debt you have. If worse comes to worse and you cannot satisfy your creditor through any other means, can you give them the collateral and be free of the obligation?
The point is that a Jesus follower should only be a slave of Jesus and no one else. Don’t allow yourself to come into the bondage of a lender. If you find yourself in bondage to a lender, make haste and do what you can to get free. Most of us have made unwise decisions along this line in our lives and have paid the price. Jesus died to make us free from our sins, let us follow his wisdom so that we are also free from bondage to creditors.
To wisdom, the only acceptable debt is one that does not presume on the future.