Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Proverbs 6:1-5 Don't lend!

The first nine chapters of Proverbs Solomon are introductory and foundational. In them he focuses mainly on two topics: the need for a life dependent upon God’s wisdom, and the dangers of adultery. So, these first verses of chapter six seem almost out of context, because they turn to the subject of how we should handle money, specifically the topic of lending:

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,

    if you have struck hands in pledge for another,  
If you have been trapped by what you said,

    ensnared by the words of your mouth,  
then do this, my son, to free yourself,

    since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:

Go and humble yourself;

    press your plea with your neighbor! 
Allow no sleep to your eyes,

    no slumber to your eyelids. 
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,

    like a bird from the snare of the fowler. (Proverbs 6:1-5)

In these verses of Proverbs, Solomon, very pointedly warns us to avoid lending money to a friend. In fact, he says, if you have already done this, don’t let another day go by without somehow freeing yourself from this pledge. He is emphatic about it! He uses the imagery of animals entrapped in a snare to demonstrate how lending money to another complicates the relationship. It almost seems as if a financial relationship is very similar to a sexual one. When you become entangled financially with a friend, the dynamics of the relationship will change - almost as if you are tied together as one. This is because our hearts are the storehouse of what we value.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

This is why it is so dangerous for us to become financially ensnared with another - especially with family and friends. If someone we care about comes to us and asks for a loan, we generally want to help. But lending money may not be the best way to help - in fact, Solomon seems to be putting up flashing lights here to warn us away from it. The minute we lend our money, we have complicated the relationship. This person has now become indebted to us, and we begin to feel proprietary toward that person. We think, “Surely, if I have loaned him the money, I should have some say in what he does with it!” It’s a slippery slope to disaster in the relationship!

So, what do we do if someone asks for financial assistance? What if your son or daughter comes to you and needs a loan? First PRAY about it. Maybe the LORD wants to use other means to help your child. There have been many times when I could have stepped in and helped my daughters financially in the past. Neither has ever asked for help, but there have been times when they could truly have used it. But I’ve never been led by the Lord to actually step in - and that has always turned out to be the right decision, because we have been able to see God work things out, instead of me! And His resolutions have always been amazing and brought Him great glory. In fact, He has built testimonies in their lives because of HIS faithfulness! They have seen that they are dependent upon HIM and not ME!

So, should we NEVER help someone out financially? Certainly not! It is clear throughout the scriptures that we should help out those in need. But we should not lend, we should GIVE as God leads us and enables us. All that we have is His, and we need to let it freely pass through our hands. That brings me to a topic for tomorrow: hoarding. I’ve been thinking about that this week, and I think it’s something we need to look at!  

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