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Weekly Bible Verse – Servant to the Lender?
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)
You’ve probably seen this verse before somewhere (I see it all over the place) but I thought I’d take a moment and focus (again) on the restrictions we place on ourselves when we go into debt.
I saw a discussion take place (that sounds weird to say you “saw” a discussion but the discussion took place through comments on a blog – work with me here) once where a participant railed against the “overuse” of this verse in personal finance blogging. They claimed that the verse was being taken too literally today; that it applied only to Biblical times when you literally could end up a servant to your lender if you were unable to repay your loan.
I personally disagree with this interpretation. Though I do a agree that you won’t actually end up as a literal servant to your bank or whatever, I do feel that this verse is an accurate description of the seriousness of taking on debt.
Debt limits your freedom
Let’s think about it for a moment – say you take out a loan for something (car, boat, house, whatever). You have entered into a legally binding agreement to pay back the money you received (plus interest – don’t forget that). You have now placed a restriction on yourself and are probably no longer able to now follow any course of action that you desire.
For instance, you have just decided that you want to change careers and you need to stop working at your current job so you can focus on going back to school for a time. Oh, and the new job will not pay as much money as the old one. Wait! Don’t forget that you owe $2000 a month on your mortgage. If you can’t afford to continue making that monthly payment while not working and going to school, then that debt is now limiting your potential courses of action.
I could make up a number of examples like this. The point is that when you enter into debt, most likely you do not have full freedom anymore to do as you please (and if you are able to just pay the debt off at anytime and move on with your life, then why did you take out a loan and agree to pay interest in the first place!).
Well, you say, “that’s silly, I could just sell my house (or whatever) and then go to school (or whatever).” Sure, you could, but don’t miss the point of what you’re doing: you’re removing that debt from your life so you can have freedom again. Actually, you probably shouldn’t necessarily count on being able to do that at any time anyway. If you bought your house in an unfortunate location in the US a couple years ago and need to sell it right now to gain more freedom, that might be a difficult thing to do.
So, in summary, remember that, according to Dictionary.com, two of the definitions of the word “freedom” are “exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.” and “the power to determine action without restraint.” I argue that whenever you take on debt, you no longer are exempt from external control and no longer truly have the power to determine action without restraint. Therefore, I contend that the statement from Proverbs that the borrower is servant to the lender is applicable to our lives today. That’s something to remember the next time you’re tempted to buy something you can’t yet afford or someone tries to entice you to open a credit card account to save 10% on your purchase.
God bless and have a great week…