Psalm 37:21 teaches us that “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives” (New King James Version). Bow true that is, and how applicable that is in our society now addicted to debt. Millions of our people are being trained to live on borrowed wealth with no genuine intent to fully repay. The majority of our leaders in both parties are addicted to debt with no ability to repay. Our nation has lost its sense of responsibility and the integrity that shuns unnecessary debt.
Borrowing without repaying is, to be blunt, an act of theft, though it is rarely intended as such. Ultimately, though, it is a dishonest act that deprives others of what was or should have been theirs.
I am saddened at how many friendships and family relationships have been broken by someone borrowing but not repaying. The lender feels cheated, betrayed, and ripped off. The borrower, in spite of numerous justifications for what really may have been unavoidable problems and unanticipated setbacks (you can always anticipate those!), often feels guilty and uncomfortable, and breaks off communication with the lender. Relationships are destroyed. Problems are much more likely to erupt in lending to friends or relatives because there is little risk of legal action and any kind of penalty for delayed payment – no penalty except the loss of trust and a broken friendship.
Countless people have experienced the problems in relationships that come when lending money to friends or relatives. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have some savings, when you are approached by needy friends and relatives looking for a loan, make sure that whatever you give them is given as a gift, not a loan. Explain that loans often destroy friendships and you don’t want yours strained in the future, and would rather give a gift. This approach has brought added peace to my life. I have never lost a friendship because I gave someone a gift. I have never lost sleep because of a gift. I have never grown angry over the dishonesty of a friend or relative because I gave them a gift. I have never lost respect for someone I love because they accepted something I chose to give them. For those people who wish to never see me again and hate the mention of my name, I know of no cases where such anger was sparked by a gift.
When you lend money to someone, think of it as leading them into overwhelming temptation to commit an act of theft, no matter how sincerely they wish to repay at the moment. Friends shouldn’t heap that kind of temptation on friends. (But there are some family organizations that set up reasonable systems for lending money to family members – those systems can work, if done well, from what I’ve heard.)
In fact, now that I think about it, giving money away is probably a lot smarter than investing. Investments lead to disappointment, lost sleep, and frustration. If I could go back in time and make all my 401k losses and bad investments into simple gifts to people I think need help, how much better my life would have been. Same balance sheet, but a lot more joy. Hmmm. I need to think about that more.
Actually, an act of generosity, when guided by the Spirit, can be the most perfect investment of all: an investment in a human being that truly helps them and achieves divine results. With the guidance of the Spirit – call it Insider trading, if you will – the possible returns are unlimited.
I think this is a good time to be increasingly generous, if we can. But I’d like our government to stop being so generous with other people’s money and not add crushing debt that the next generation can never repay. Their wickedness is especially perverse.