How many of us have lent something to somebody and we never received it back? Most of us, I suspect! If we got it back, was it in the same condition as when we lent it? Were we grieved because we didn’t get it back, or because when it was returned, it was not in the same condition as when we lent it?
What was our response in either case? How did we feel? Did we respond in the way God would have wanted us to? Did we respond with patience, love (Galatians 5:22), forgiveness and compassion?
In His Word, the Bible, God gives us directives regarding lending and borrowing. He tells us unequivocally about lending and borrowing. In the third book of the Bible, Leviticus 25:35-38, we find these words: ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him, but fear God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.’
God’s words were directed to His chosen people, the Israelites of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2), but today the disciples of Christ apply the ‘principles’ of what was required of the Israelites to themselves. So, basically, if a church member is in need, and we know of his need, and we have the resources to satisfy his need, we should help him (James 2:15, 16). The same help is to be offered to strangers and sojourners, but when it comes to lending money to brethren, they are not be charged interest – especially exorbitant interest (Exodus 22:25). Indeed, we should give, rather than lend, and not expect anything back (Matthew 6:3, 4).
Our attitude is important. When we lend we should do it with compassion and love – never putting pressure on the borrower to return what was lent. Deuteronomy 24:10-13 testifies to this: “When you lend to your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God.”
If we act with compassion God will count our actions as ‘righteousness’ before Him (v 13). If we lend as to the LORD, He will pay back what was given (Proverbs 19:17), and our descendants will be blessed (Psalm 37:26). Jesus tells us, our ‘reward will be great’, and we ‘will be sons of the Most High (Luke 6:34-36)’. Jesus is also forthright with us by saying, “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away (Matthew 5:42).”
Ideally, both the lender and the borrower should only ‘owe’ love to one another (Romans 13:8).