Biblical Principles of Borrowing


Biblical Principles of Borrowing

1739 Edition of Poor Richard's Almanac

1739 Edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Principles of borrowing appear in God’s Word, although it should be noted that principles differ from laws.

A principle is an instruction from the Lord to help guide our decisions. A law is an absolute. Negative consequences can result from ignoring a principle, but punishment is the likely consequence of ignoring a law of God.

An example that shows the difference between principle and law: the principle of borrowing given in Scripture is that it is better not to borrow if the loan must be taken with surety. “A man lacking in sense pledges and becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor” (Proverbs 17:18).

The law of borrowing given in Scripture is that it is a sin to borrow and not repay. “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives” (Psalm 37:21). The implication of this Scripture is that the wicked can repay but will not, as opposed to those who want to repay but cannot.

Principles are given to keep us clearly within God’s path so that we can experience His blessings. To ignore them puts us in a constant state of jeopardy in which Satan can cause us to stumble at any time.

Principle 1: Debt is not normal
Regardless of how it seems today, debt is not normal in any economy and should not be normal for God’s people.

We live in a debt-ridden society that is now virtually dependent on a constant expansion of credit to keep the economy going. That is a symptom of a society no longer willing to follow God’s directions. God told His people what He would do if they kept His statutes.

“Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth….The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow”

(Deuteronomy 28:1, 12). Borrowing is never God’s best for His people.

Principle 2: Do not accumulate long-term debt
It’s hard to believe that a typical American family accepts a 30-year home mortgage as normal today or that it is now possible in some cases to borrow on a home for nearly 70 years.

The need to expand the borrowing base continually forces longer mortgage loans, because expansion through taking on debt causes prices to rise through inflation. As prices rise, mortgages lengthen.

Today it requires from 40 to 70 percent of the average American family’s total income to buy an average home, even with a 30-year mortgage.

The longest term of debt God’s people took on in the Bible was about seven years.

During the year of remission, the seventh year, the Jews were instructed to release their brothers from any indebtedness (see Deuteronomy 15:1-2). Thus, the only debts that could exceed seven years were those made to non-Jews or from non-Jews.

Principle 3: Avoid surety
Surety means accepting an obligation to pay without having a guaranteed way to make the payments.

The most recognizable form of surety is cosigning a loan for another person. But surety also can be any form of borrowing in which an unconditional guarantee to pay is committed.

The only way to avoid surety is to collateralize a loan with property that, if sold, would cover the indebtedness, no matter what.

Currently Americans charge in excess of $400 billion annually on their credit cards, of which $50 billion or more is for annual finances charges, and they carry an average monthly balance of between $3,000 and $5,800 at 12 to 21.5 percent interest.

These credit card purchases have become the most common form of surety in America today. In a credit card transaction, one merchant sells a consumer a product and another finances the purchase, unless the credit purchase is with an in-store credit card.

In the event of a default, the return of the merchandise to the original merchant does not cancel the debt because the finance company has no interest in the merchandise purchased.

Principle 4: The borrower has an absolute commitment to repay
In this generation, situational ethics is widely accepted—so much so that it’s easy to rationalize not paying a debt, especially when the product or service is defective or when family financial situations seem to be out of control.

Unfortunately, many borrowers discover that it is possible for them to accumulate far more debt than they can repay and still maintain the lifestyle they want. As a result, they bail out.

Currently (2002 standards) over one million people a year now choose bankruptcy as a way to postpone or avoid repayment.

Nevertheless, in some cases voluntary bankruptcy is acceptable—but only in the context of trying to protect the creditors, never in the context of trying to avoid payment.

A Christian needs to accept that God allows no exceptions to keeping vows. “It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:5).

Conclusion
Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac quotes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Although it is good common sense, it is not from God’s Word.

However, many Christians feel that all borrowing is prohibited according to Romans 13:8, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

To properly interpret this Scripture, it must be considered in light of the context in which it appears. In this particular reference, Paul was not talking specifically about money—teaching that we are never to allow people to do things for us if we are not willing to do even more for them.

Scripture very clearly says that neither borrowing nor lending is prohibited, but firm guidelines are given.

Borrowing is discouraged and, in fact, every biblical reference to it is a negative one. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7). The scriptural guideline for borrowing is very clear. When you borrow, you promise to repay. Literally, borrowing is making a vow and God requires that we keep our vows.

by Crown Financial Ministries

# # #

Brian Raines is a former Senior Financial Advisor for an international firm, and is now an associate with Crown Financial Ministries.  If you are interested in utilizing Crown resources in your church, school, or business, please contact Brian at brianraines@bellsouth.net

Advertisements

Fearing the Future


Fearing the Future
Crown_Logo

So, what’s in your future? No, this has nothing to do with horoscopes, but many Christians make financial decisions based on fear of the future, instead of trust that God will provide for them.

Fear of the future can cause families to forfeit the blessings of God, because they base decisions on the latest headline or stock market report. Too often, Christians give little thought to God’s ability to take care of them.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan ahead to ensure financial stability for our families; however, when Christians find that attitudes of fear and worry are motivating financial decisions, they need to reevaluate their financial priorities, and recommit to trust in the Lord.

WITHHOLDING FROM GOD

Often, Christian families that are motivated by fear of the financial future will cut back on their tithes and offerings. Mistakenly, they see this as a first step in an attempt at financial stability.

Recent events such as U.S. relations with North Korea, war in Iraq, turmoil in the Middle East, gasoline prices, rising trade deficits, major layoffs, threat of terrorism, and an unstable economy, have caused many Americans to be concerned about the future.

The U.S. economic slowdown has the financial well-being of many Americans hanging in the balance. They worry about not having enough money to pay normal monthly bills, and the rash of recent mortgage defaults has devastated many families. Many Americans live so close to the edge financially that a prolonged economic downturn could put them in serious financial straits.

Despite all this, and even though many are very concerned about the financial future, consumer spending has not dropped proportionately. Actually, there has been very little change in the percentage of their income that Americans spend.

Still, there has been a shift in how the funds are spent. Less money is being saved and contributed to churches and charitable organizations, while more is being spent on credit card interest, recreation, alcohol, gambling (primarily through state lotteries) and pets.

This gives us good reason to pause and review what Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…. No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:21, 24).

The Bible says we are to honor God with the tithe — the first-fruits of our income. Keeping our financial vows to God is the way to ensure that we will not become victimized by a financial downturn.

Withholding your financial commitments to the Lord so that you can buffer yourself against potential future financial hardships will end up costing your financial security rather than guarding it, simply because God’s blessings will not be on such a self-imposed buffer.

FAITH CONQUERS FEAR

Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as something we hope for that we do not presently have. God’s plan seems to be that we have some needs so that we can develop our faith in Him. It is vital for us to view potential future financial needs as opportunities to exercise and develop our faith.

No Christian can truly serve God and live in fear of financial loss. Jesus makes it very clear in the passage from Matthew 6, that we must make a choice — either serve God or money, we cannot serve both. Fear of our financial future exhibits a lack of trust in God and in His provision. In other words, when we fear the future, we choose to serve the fear of financial loss, rather than to trust and serve God, Who has conquered all fear and holds the future in His hands.

WHOM WILL YOU TRUST?

We live in a materialistic society and generally base our priorities on desires and wants, rather than on needs. The perspective of what is actually a need is often clouded by what our materialistic society says we need.

Although God has promised that He will always supply our needs, He has not promised that He will supply all of the wants that society calls our needs. Even though we sincerely ask God to honor our request to supply the money to repair our microwave, automatic dishwasher or second car, His answer may very well be “no.”

You see, we may be asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3). It may not be the right time, according to God’s will and purpose (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). Or, it may be contrary to His overall plan (Acts 21:13-14). After all, we are to serve God, not expect Him to serve us (Job 41:11).

It’s a matter of “who’re you gonna trust?”

TRUST GOD

There are some important steps we must follow that will help us trust God completely with the present and the future.

— Find God’s direction for your life. Most frustrations that Christians experience are the result of trying to model their lives after someone else’s life. Instead, through prayer and study, find God’s will for you.

— Make a conscious effort to trust God. Put thoughts, words and commitments into action and trust God. Don’t buy on credit. Plan ahead and wait for God to supply your needs.

— Develop a long-range perspective. Trust God’s directives and His guidance (Matthew 6:34).

— Pray diligently. Prayer is the key that unlocks God’s blessings, power and direction (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

Although we are bombarded daily with events that can cause doubt concerning our financial future, we must never doubt that God is in complete control. Refuse to panic, and do not be governed by fear of the future. Keep your commitments and vows to God, pray without ceasing and trust your future to Him without reservation.

This article appeared on the Baptist Press Web site on October 24, 2007.

______________________________________________________

Brian Raines is an associate with Crown Financial Ministries.  If you would like to have a Crown Financial event in your church, school, or business, or if you would like to purchase Crown materials, you may contact Brian at brianraines@bellsouth.net

 

 

Dealing With Pride


Dealing with pride
by Crown Financial Ministries

Once Christians are trapped by pride, they are not of service to God.

God will give us plenty of opportunities to recognize and correct this attitude. The difficulty most times is admitting that we actually have the problem.

Larry Burkett told the following story. “God gave me the opportunity to assess myself about pride. I was working on some important material, and a deadline was approaching when I received a phone call from a widow I was counseling. I was a little irritated because she had been in several times previously with relatively trivial problems (from my perspective). She asked if she could come in right away because she had a crisis in her budget (her checking account didn’t balance). I explained that I really didn’t have any time available and suggested another counselor we had trained.

“A short time later I received a call from a businessman who wanted to bring a celebrity by who was in town working on a movie. This person is so well-known that I knew it was a rare opportunity and I said yes. I had no sooner hung up the phone than the words of James came ringing in my ears. ‘If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors’ (James 2:9). I found myself trapped by the most devious snare that Satan lays: pride. I had to call the businessman back and tell him I couldn’t meet with them until later and call my counselee back and ask her forgiveness.”

Symptoms of pride
In order to cure a disease, we must first be able to recognize its symptoms. They are the visible, outside indicators. Although we may not always recognize them in ourselves, others will. So it becomes vital for us to stay open to criticism, particularly from those who are spiritually discerning.

A haughty leader
“Who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Nothing points more clearly to a pride problem than an aloof leader. When Christians find that they only want to associate with the right people and look down at others because they’re less educated, less intelligent, or less successful, they are no longer useful to God’s work.

Selfishness
It is easy to rationalize an indulgent lifestyle in a society in which most people indulge themselves. It is a rare individual who can actually handle much wealth and keep his or her priorities straight. Today the motto is, “Live like the King’s kids,” but nowhere in Christ’s teachings did He direct us to do so. Poverty is not God’s norm, but neither is lavishness. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Conclusion
How do you break out of a pride trap? You must vow to serve God and God’s people, and then make yourself accountable to others. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

——————————————————————————–

Brian Raines is a Crown Associate.  He is available to assist you with scheduling Crown Financial Ministries events in your church, school, or business.

 

Finding Financial Counsel


Finding financial counsel

Finance

Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

by Crown Financial Ministries

A commonly asked question from Christians seeking advice on financial matters is, “How can I find good Christian counsel?”

Perhaps even more fundamental would be the question, “How can I tell when I find good Christian counsel?”

Limitations in finding good financial counsel
It is very difficult to receive unbiased advice from someone who is trying to sell a particular product. So, an obvious limitation that Christians should easily recognize is whether the people giving them financial advice are actually giving wise advice or just a sales pitch.

A second limitation is to find financial counselors with like minds, attitudes, and principles. Many financial advisors who profess to be Christians live lifestyles that are far from Christ-like.

Likewise there are those who are very good Christians, but they have no knowledge or wisdom concerning the biblical principles of finances.

There are many guidelines in God’s Word for seeking and selecting good godly counsel. So, although seeking counsel is advised, selecting wise counsel is imperative.

Principles for seeking and selecting good financial counsel
Listed below are four basic principles that Christians need to consider in seeking and selecting good, godly financial counsel.

  1. Seek and select Christian counsel. Seek and select financial counselors on the basis of a common value system. For Christians, that means to seek counsel from those who acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1).

    This does not imply that non-Christians are incapable of giving good financial advice. However, the standards by which decisions are made must be based on God’s Word and Christ-like character, rather than on the world’s humanistic get-ahead-at-all-costs standards.

  2. Seek and select wise counsel. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). The fact that people are professed Christians does not qualify them to be good financial counselors.

    All too often Christians throw wisdom and caution to the wind when it comes to taking advice from professed Christians. Christian counselor and counselee alike must be in regular communication with God and seek His wisdom before any decision is made. So, not only must counselors be knowledgeable in areas of biblical principles of finance but they also must regularly seek God’s wisdom in prayer and in the study of His Word.

  3. Seek and select multiple qualified counselors. “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). No financial counselor can be an expert in all areas of finance.

    The areas of taxes, securities, stocks, bonds, and real estate are so complex in today’s society that only with a variety of good financial counselors who are experts in their respective fields can Christians hope to attain a well-rounded perspective of biblical financial principles.

  4. Weigh all counsel given. “The naïve believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). The purpose of counsel is to offer suggestions, alternatives, and options—not to make decisions on behalf of counselees.

    Even the best financial counsel in the world lacks an essential element necessary to make sound and wise financial decisions—knowledge of God’s plan for the lives of the counselees. Therefore, there should never be a decision made unless it has been presented to God in prayer first.

    The peace of God—or lack of peace—as a result of prayer is an indisputable indicator of God’s preferred directive. In addition, each decision should be tested against God’s Word. If it is not consistent with the purity and the spirit of God’s Word, the decision should be rejected.

    Counselors’ motives and actions also should be evaluated. If counselors will deceive others on the counselees’ behalf, they also will most likely eventually deceive the counselees.

    Review the five-year track record of any and all people who offer their counsel. Just because they are Christians does not mean that they have been successful in their financial counsel.

Conclusion
The best method for locating good, godly financial counsel is asking other Christians who have been helped. This could be fellow church attendees, pastors, or Christian businesspeople.

Additionally, this type of information could perhaps be found at Christian professional associations, societies, and organizations—both locally and nationally.

Without a doubt, good and godly financial counsel is available for all who seek such counsel. Prayer, wisdom, and caution must be foremost in order to select the most qualified counselors and those whose lives and expertise conform to God’s will for the lives of the counselees.

_________________________________________________________

To schedule an initial consultation with Brian Raines with PHP Financial in the upstate of South Carolina, please send an e-mail to brianraines@bellsouth.net   Brian was a financial advisor for fourteen years before selling his financial planning practice.  Brian now does Christian financial consulting without providing financial planning, investment, or tax advice.  Schedule your consultation today.

 

PHP Financial is a subsidiary of The Raines Organization, Inc.  This article is not an endorsement of PHP Financial by Crown Financial Ministries.