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What Does the Bible Say About..Debt?

1. What are the penalties toward debtor according to the bible? Show me some verses, please....

2. What did Jesus say about debt (with verse)

3. How can we get rid of debt?


The Bible does not give any penalties against debtors that I could find. The Law of Moses says a lot about lenders, but little about debtors. There was a prohibition on lending with excessive (or, some rabbis say, any) interest. (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:27; Deuteronomy 23:19-20) There were limits on what could be done to take possession of collateral on a debt (Deuteronomy 24:10-11). And under the Law of Moses there was the automatic cancellation of debts every seventh year (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). If a loan was made six months before the year of release, it was cancelled after six months, no matter the size of the debt. But even the Law doesnít specify the penalties for the lenders, and certainly none for the debtors. It appears that it was assumed that people would go into debt, and provided for the best conditions for them. The only way in which it could be said that there was any restriction or penalty on debt would be the restrictions on making a pledge and then not following through on it. ďIf a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.Ē (Numbers 30:2)

Jesus had little to say about debt. In Matthew 18 he told a parable about a man who owed a great debt, which was forgiven of him. He then went out and demanded repayment of debts owed to him. The master who originally forgave his debt punishes him, not for being a debtor but for being unforgiving. In Luke 7:41 Jesus makes the point that one who is forgiven a greater debt is more loving toward the one who forgave it. In Luke 16 he tells a parable of a man who assured his position as steward by forgiving parts of debts owed to his master. But Jesus says nothing against debtors themselves.

Debt becomes a problem for Godís people, then, only when it causes them to sin by not meeting their obligations. That would be when they can not repay the debt. That may also be when the debt is so great that repaying it causes them to neglect the support of their families.

That last question is a tough one. I, like many Americans, am in debt to various companies more than is good for me. The simplest answer would be not to get into debt in the first place. In many cases that is not an option. In America it is possible to find debt counselors who can help reduce debt by consolidating loans at a lower interest rate. If one is in excessive debt, cutting up or hiding the credit cards may be an option. Or, like in one commercial for managing debt, freeze the credit card in a large block of ice. This will cut down on impulse spending.

Most Christian debt counselors emphasize budgeting (and sticking to it), knowing the difference between needs and wants (there is that impulse spending thing again), and faith. That last one bears some explanation. Faith in God acknowledges that He is able to provide everything we need. Everything we have comes from Him. If we trust God, then a lot of our credit spending will be unnecessary. Some credit spending is based on a lack of trust that God will give us our needs. Another group of debtors takes the attitude that they can make all sorts of promises and not fulfill them. They donít believe God will punish their lies. Faith in God will obligate them to keep their promises, and they will be more likely to think twice about debt.

The best advice I can give, though, for reducing debt is to see a debt counselor. They have the skills and the contacts to help.