Tip for Personal Peace: Give, Don’t Lend

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.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

18 thoughts on “Tip for Personal Peace: Give, Don’t Lend

  1. My mother, a very wise woman, gave me that exact advice when I was young. I have never regretted following it.

  2. Never borrower nor lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

    How much wisdom we have turned our backs on through the years.

    I do believe in the free gift. ~

  3. This morning I was thinking about this very topic when I read Luke 6:34: "And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again." Lending with no expectation of repayment solves my problem, but it may not solve the borrower's.

  4. On a more practical note, when a friend asks you to loan him money, you can offer to "buy" something of value from him, with the option that he can "buy" it back in 30 to 90 days with no interest.

    It's like pawning, but without interest.

    And if he can't afford to "buy" it back, you get to keep it, or sell it on Ebay, or take it to a pawn-shop yourself.

    To make it really work, it has to be something that you want, or could use. Or, if you don't really want/need it, then you need to buy it at a lower price than what you could sell it on ebay for or actually pawn for.

    And if your friend swears up and down that there's no doubt he can repay you, then he should be willing to temporarily part with something of value.

    That's what I tell friends: "No, I won't loan you money, but I can give you up to $2, any more than that, I'll buy something from you if I can use it, and then you can buy it back within 60 days, but after 60 days, it's mine, and I get to re-sell it if I want."

    I've done this, and ended up with some stuff I either really liked or wanted. And, my friends ended up with more money for their items than they could have gotten at the pawn-shop, but I still got a good price on the item.

    Years ago I "bought" a real nice steel wok that I still use several times a week.

    Maybe you need an extra TV, and if your friend is so sure he can pay you back, he can go without his TV for a while.

  5. My father gave me similar but subtly different wise advice. It was, "Never lend more than the price of your friendship."

  6. "Borrowing without repaying is, to be blunt, an act of theft…"

    I think you left out a key component here and as a consequence take a step too far in your condemnation. Borrowing without repaying is NOT theft as a number of mitigating factors can play a roll in absolving one from any obligation to repay. Recognition of the inherent riskiness of lending accounts for these mitigating factors by requiring borrowers to pay more than the initial principal. Borrowing without any intent to repay can appropriately be classified as theft.

  7. Such good advise! I have been going through a ruff time financially over the past two years (business partner ran off with the $$) I have a girlfriend who is going through almost the same thing. I have asked her in conversation "are you ok? do you need something from the grocery store?" She will say no but in the end I will give her 30$ to cover her! I have never asked for it back – but received it! She also has been there for me when I was short to go to the grocery store! I think I would give her my last dollar! What goes around comes around! I recently saw a great video from a website "The Friendship Stone" about firing your Friendship CPA – it is great and a good reminder for us all! Great gift too!

  8. I've learned this is true, from both angles. Once, when I lent money to a close friend, she found it necessary to call me and justify every purchase she made. So awkward! What a strain on the friendship.

  9. Wise counsel. I, too, have seen both sides of this – seeing a relationship destroyed over a bad debt and seeing one uplifted tremendously by giving to a friend in need. We recently had some close friends fall on terrible times – baby almost ready to come, father lost his job, had to move out in the middle of the night, only family vehicle gave out on the last trip of stuff moving out of their place, and had a close relative die a long way away where they couldn't attend the funeral. Now those were hard times. The asked to borrow some small amount of money, to get to the funeral but we instead loaned them a car for a couple of months, paid the deposit to them (instead of the landlord) to take over their place, and gave them the money they needed for the trip with the understanding that they had no obligation to pay it back, but they if they ever saw a friend in need when they had the means, they could remember it. It strengthened our relationship with that family to do that for them, and it was an uplifting experience for us as a family.

    I am leaving my name off this comment because I am not trying to puff myself up. I just wanted to bear testimony of where giving over lending was a great experience for us.

  10. The scriptures seem pretty clear that not repaying one's debts is a sin, one that we're often guilty of or required to forgive of our fellow man, but still a sin. Whether we mortals call it "theft" or something nicer-sounding seems of little importance. This was an excellent post.

  11. This is totally my policy, because if I lend you money and you don't pay me back, I will never forget or forgive. It has to do with my mother borrowing her whole life with no intention of repaying. I have so little respect for those who don't pay back what they owe.

    So, if my friend asks me for $2 to buy a burger, I ask, "when can you pay me back? because if you don't, it will ruin our friendship." My kids know this. I either give it or I don't.

  12. Another great post Jeff!

    (there's a typo on the second to last paragraph "tguidance of the…")

  13. Great post Jeff,

    Reminds me of Christ's advice from the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5 and 6:

    39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
    43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    Chapter 6

    1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

    It really pays to give openly even if something is being taken through a means of oppression. This is difficult for most of humanity to grasp as each one of us wants to see fair justice rule and all injustices dealt with appropriately.

    If you bear in mind the texts later in chapter 6 :
    " 19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

    If we don't have any earthly focus to detract from our heavenly thoughts, then who is going to want to steal what we have. What can they take – our happiness, our assurance in Christ, our salvation, or our many many blessings from God ?

    To hold friendships to ransome due to debts incurred, these are the Christian stumbling blocks identified under the umbrella of 'treasures on earth'. Can anyone really put a price on a true friendship. Isn't every child of God our true brother and sister and worthy of friendship ? "Greater love hath no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends" – No monetary value – one's life!

    How different the world would be if it held true to the principals of love as opposed to those of the right to bear arms and protect what we have. Governments need to take a long hard look at themselves on how they are selling the people out for their own individual political and monetary gain.

  14. great article. I always believe if you give more to others, especially when you don't have it, you feel better inside. My wife and I have been broke for years, borrowing from one lender to pay another. It has been very hard struggling to just pay the bills. We don't live an extravagent life just have had some bad luck along the way. Recently my dad was scammed over the Internet and by the time I stepped in to help out he had given away over $20K. I borrowed against our 401K and paid off several bills he had and helped pay their rent and other bills as well as buy groceries, etc. I am still as broke as ever but helping them out in their certain time of unfortunate need has made us see the broader perspective. When we have an Eternal perspective, even the bonds of debt can seem easier to overcome. My wife tells me we will always be broke because if we ever did have anything substantial I would give it all away. This is something I must attribute to my mother. She always served others as stake relief society president & primary pres., etc. Whatever calling she has been in, she has always showed me and my brothers, all while we were growing up that giving what you have, even when you go without is the greatest gift you can give. So thanks to my mom, I always give what I can away and never loan or lend things out. It used to seem hard to do at times, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and the better you feel. – Joe

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