Biblical theme A4: Lending & Borrowing
Lending and borrowing are commonplace across the world. The Bible has much to say about these activities, relevant to the household level and also across production, trade and economics. Lending and borrowing underpin much of the global economy, and are increasingly more prevalent than outright purchases or sales. Witness the rise in mortgage lending, where most of the transaction (apart from the deposit) is based around a loan/repayment agreement. Consider the government bond markets, which are the largest financial markets at present; essentially, governments borrow money from the bond-holders who are individuals or organisations. The biblical system is radically different, as illustrated by Leviticus 25, which puts the themes of lending and borrowing in context, with the example of the year of Jubilee.
- Read Leviticus 25, and describe how the theme of liberation is applied to land, homes and people.
- Loans are described in Deuteronomy 15:1-11. What do we think about the periodicity of the forgiveness described? Who is responsible for initiating forgiveness? Why was it permitted to charge foreigners interest? Would be willing to avoid interest as a society if it contributed to having no poor people? How do we view lending to many nations? Proverbs 22:7 demonstrates the relationship between the rich and the poor with regard to rulership and service; how does this connect with the obligation to love your neighbour?
- Collateral is used to reduce risk to the lender in many loans. Exodus 22:25-27 and Deuteronomy 24:6,10-13 give examples. Do changes in society over three millennia make these commands less relevant today; if so, why?
- Interest is a theme of many passages throughout the Old Testament. Read Leviticus 25:36-37. What is the benefit of the restriction? How does the fear of God relate to living as community? Ezekiel 18:3-13 concerns the themes of “restoring to the debtor” (v7) and “not taking usury, nor increase” (v8).
- Nehemiah 5:1-12 gives an example of a reformation of interest across society. What were the causes for Nehemiah’s anger? How might such a paradigm shift work today?
- What did Jesus borrow in Luke 19:30? How do we learn from his example?
- 2 Kings 6:1-7 recalls a story about lending. What do you notice about the intentions behind the construction project, and the attitude of the person borrowing the axe?
- Deuteronomy 28:44 suggests a connection between borrowing and disobedience. What do you think of this?
- How does Proverbs 19:17 tell us that we can lend to the Lord? To what effect?
- Read Luke 6:34-5. Why do you think Jesus emphasises giving as opposed to lending?
- Romans 3:22 tells us that God gives us righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. We do not “borrow” his righteousness. It is a gift, freely given. What difference does this gift make to the way we behave?
- What does Romans 13:8 tell us about owing anything to somebody?
- How well do you lend? Can you think of how you could lend better? What about your lending (investing) to banks? What about to brothers and sisters in Christ or people in need?
- How well do you borrow? Where do you borrow? Credit cards, car loans, education, spending, mortgages, investment? Is there some borrowing you would do better without? Are there times you would rather not have borrowed?
[Ranjeet Guptara, November 2015]