By Gene Price
Pastor, Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, Gleason
Focal Passage: Proverbs 6:1-5, 22:7
Solomon, the man who asked for and received wisdom, warns about the snare of over-extended financial obligations. His words are needed as society is drowning in debt, both consumer and national debt. The average credit card debt is over $16,000. The national debt is about 18.9 trillion dollars. “Spending out of control” seems to be a way of life.
Proverbs 22:7 warns that debt enslaves a person. Debt causes a person to lose their freedom. People who owe money work for their creditors. Work then enjoy possessions is now enjoy possessions then work to pay for them. Debt causes all kinds of problems. Debt brings stress into a person’s life, and leads them to make bad decisions that cause even more problems.
In Proverbs 6:1-2, Solomon warns against debt that is beyond your ability to manage. He warns against becoming a surety who is really cosigning a loan for another party. The point is to never cosign a loan for a deal that you would have never entered into yourself. God wants us to have compassion for another person, yet it is unwise to commit your income to cover the cost of a friend’s unwise business deal. Someone has said, “Don’t allow your emotions to take you where your bank account can’t keep you.” Solomon is not teaching against generosity, but against overextending our financial resources and acting irresponsibly. It is wise to think through the consequences of the business deal before entering any agreement for another party (Luke 14:28-30). Many have entered into a business deal for others not knowing how far they were pledging themselves or all the elements concerning the financial issue. Solomon’s advice is as follows: if we allow our words to trap us into something, then it is best to swallow our pride, admit our mistake, and attempt to get out of the deal. Unwise agreements that can bring distress on our families, along with dishonor to our name, and reproach to our church. A godly man shows favor and lends, yet he must guide his financial affairs with prudence (Psalm 112:5; Ecclesiastes 8:13). When a financial mess is made, God is not obligated to bless.
In Proverbs 6:3-5, Solomon encourages people to get out of binding financial entanglements. Many people have lost their house and goods for no fault of their own by cosigning another’s loan. Again, Solomon’s advice is to swallow pride, admit a mistake was made, and attempt to get out of the bad deal. To show the urgency of getting out of a bad deal (vv. 4-5), Solomon paints a picture of a deer running from a hunter or a bird flying from a trapper. No other person should have control over our assets. Someone has said, “The best way to lose a friend is to loan him money.” Maybe that is why Jesus taught us to give — not to loan (Matthew 10:8).
Solomon’s advice has to be balanced against other passages of Scripture. Nowhere does the Bible teach we should not help people in need (Psalm 112:5). Paul became bound for the financial obligations of Onesimus (Philemon 19). This passage does not teach selfishness but insists on wise kindness. It is wise to keep out of debt. It is also wise to realize it is not beneficial for people in need to be helped into more debt.