What the Bible Says about Debt and Legacy
By Martha Kleder
The Bible has much to say about money management and particularly the issue of debt. While not forbidden, Scripture discourages indebtedness - especially as a way of life as we currently have in the United States. Instead, God allowed the Israelites to carry debt for a period of seven years. This way, under His plan, Israel wouldn't bind the future of its children. The basic principles of debt and inheritance found in the Bible are as follows:
Repayment of debt is mandatory.
- "Better not to vow than to vow and not pay" (Ecclesiastes 5:5).
Debt presumes upon the future.
- "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:13-14).
Debt enslaves the debtor.
- "The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7)
Failure to repay is considered stealing. Forcing future generations to carry the burden of our debt is stealing from our children.
- "The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives" (Psalm 37:21).
- "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16).
- "If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth" (Numbers 30:2).
Debt symbolizes a lack of contentment.
- "[A]s sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:10).
- "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
- "And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15).
Interest on debt is the greatest waster of resources.
- "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8).
- "So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, 'Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost'" (John 6:12).
Ignoring our debt is sinful.
- "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Debt prevents us from receiving God's full blessings.
- "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own" (Luke 16:10-12).
We are to strive to leave our children a solid foundation on which to build.
- "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous" (Proverbs 13:22).
- "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).
Raising taxes will not solve our debt problem. Those without fiscal discipline use the surplus to justify further financial commitment.
The end result, debtors bring on themselves their own demise.
- "The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. Moreover, all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you" (Deuteronomy 28:43-45).
It's time for our nation to ask ourselves, "Who is the alien among us? Who holds our debt and the ability to dictate our future and that of generations to come?"
Martha Kleder, MBA, is a senior policy analyst with Concerned Women for America.
1) The Family Voice Bulletin is available as a PDF download. Click here to access this resource.
2) All verses are taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.