SIMON’S youngest child is sick and in urgent need of medicine. But Simon is very poor and cannot afford it. What can he do? Well, a fellow Christian named Michael is better off than he is financially. Perhaps Michael will lend him the money. *
When Simon approaches him, Michael is faced with a dilemma. He realizes that there is a genuine need but suspects that Simon will not be able to pay back the money because he has a struggle just to feed his family. What should Michael do?
In many countries, people can lose their means of livelihood overnight and find themselves with no money or insurance to cover medical bills. When an emergency arises, the only solution might seem to be a loan. Before asking for a loan, though, there are some important matters to consider.
For instance, the Bible reminds us that we should not view lightly the matter of borrowing money. The apostle Paul urged Christians in Rome: “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another; for he that loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) Ideally, the only debt a Christian should owe others is love. Hence, we might first ask ourselves, ‘Is this loan really essential?’
If the answer is yes, then it is wise to consider the consequences of getting into debt. Jesus Christ showed that important decisions require careful thought and planning. He asked his disciples: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke ) This principle applies when considering whether to ask a brother for a loan. Calculating the expense of a loan means calculating how and when we will repay it.
Bank loans may be unavailable or far too expensive
The lender has a right to know how and when the loan will be repaid. By weighing matters carefully, we will be able to give him concrete answers. Have we calculated the cost of paying back the loan within a reasonable period of time? Of course, it would be easier to tell our brother: “I will repay you as soon as possible. You know you can trust me.” But should we not handle such matters in a more responsible way? We must be determined from the outset to repay the loan, since that is what Jehovah requires of us. “The wicked one is borrowing and does not pay back,” says Psalm .
By calculating how and when we will repay the loan, we remind ourselves of the serious commitment we are making. This reduces the likelihood that we will incur debt needlessly. If we can avoid going into debt, there are advantages. Proverbs 22:7 warns: “The borrower is servant to the man doing the lending.” Even when both lender and borrower are spiritual brothers, a loan may affect their relationship, at least to a certain extent. Misunderstandings over loans have even disrupted the peace of some congregations.
The lender has a right to know basically how we are going to use the borrowed money. Apart from this loan, are we also borrowing money from others? If so, we should make this clear, for it has a bearing on our ability to repay the loan.
The Scriptures provide guidelines for both the lender and the borrower
It is especially important to distinguish between a business loan and one needed to meet some emergency. A brother has no Scriptural obligation to lend money for a commercial venture, but he is likely to feel inclined to help if another brother, through no fault of his own, finds himself unable to pay for such basic necessities as food, clothing, or essential medical care. Frankness and truthfulness in these matters will help to prevent misunderstandings.-Ephesians 4:25.