Introduction: Forbes says that foolishly spending money is the number
one cause for divorce. While others dispute the extent of the
relationship between money and divorce, a common view is that
financial problems tend to seep into other areas of family life and
create friction. My guess is that couples are not fighting over how
to spend extra money, they are in conflict over the debt that arises
from foolish spending. Did you know that the Bible gives us counsel
on debt? It does! Let’s dig into our study of the Bible and see what
we can learn about God’s view of debt!

  1. Old Testament Rules on Debt

    1. Read Deuteronomy 15:6. We have repeatedly discussed God’s
      promises to bless us financially if we are generous with
      Him in the use of our money and talents. What does this
      text suggest about God’s blessings to us and debt? (This
      tells us that God’s blessings will allow us to be lenders,
      and keep us from being borrowers.)

      1. To what does this text compare borrowing money? (You
        are ruled by those to whom you owe money.)

      2. Does this text say borrowing money is wrong? (No.
        But, it does not put borrowing in a favorable light.
        It says that when it comes to lending and borrowing,
        God wants us to be lenders!)

    2. Read Deuteronomy 15:1-3. What happened every seven years
      in the lending and borrowing system among the Israelites?
      (Debts were cancelled!)

      1. Think about how God’s system for His people compares
        to the modern banking system. Do banks want to give
        you credit cards so that you will get into debt?

        1. How would the banks’ behavior change if debts
          were cancelled every seven years? (Today, banks
          want to lure us into debt because they charge
          enormous interest rates. But, this shows that
          under God’s system, lenders faced very
          practical limits on lending.)

      2. What about lending to foreigners? (That was

    3. Read Deuteronomy 15:7-9. Well, well! This reveals the
      obvious limitation in a system cancelling debts every
      seven years. What does God call it if you don’t want to
      lend money when the seventh year is approaching? (Sin!)

    4. Read Deuteronomy 15:10-11. When the text refers to “in the
      land” and “your brothers,” what does this say about God’s
      policy? (The NIV translates this “toward your brothers and
      toward the poor and needy.” However, that is not the way
      the rest of the translations that I consulted treat this.
      The rest refer to the poor and needy among your brothers.
      This seems to focus the policy on fellow believers.)

    5. Read Proverbs 3:28. What principle does this text promote?
      (Prompt payment of debts.)

    6. Read Deuteronomy 28:12-14. As you think about these verses
      and the lessons we learned from Deuteronomy 15, what
      concepts is God combining? (Lessons on the connection
      between obedience and blessings, lending rules and our
      care for the poor.)

      1. Why are these concepts combined? (God’s goal is to
        bless us so that we do not need to borrow. But,
        lending to the poor (and releasing them from debt),
        is part of being generous towards God.)

      2. If being obedient to God will help us to avoid being
        in debt. What are those rules? Let’s explore those

  2. Backing Loans

    1. Read Proverbs 17:18 and Proverbs 22:26. What does it mean
      to “pledge?” (This is guaranteeing the payment of a loan.
      The Bible warns us about promising to pay the loan of
      another person in the event they fail to pay.)

      1. Why is this different than actually lending the money
        to the other person?

    2. Read Proverbs 22:27. What does this suggest is the true
      problem with being a guarantor of debt? (The real problem
      is not being able to pay back the debt. If you truly had
      the money, you could make the loan yourself. But, the
      problem arises when you want to be helpful (or appear
      rich) and you don’t have the money.)

  3. Borrowing Things

    1. Read 2 Kings 6:4-7. What would be the obligation of the
      man who accidentally lost the ax head had Elisha not been
      around to perform a miracle? (Read Exodus 22:14-15. You
      are to make restitution. This is not true if you paid to
      rent the ax head or if the owner of the ax head was
      working with you.)

    2. My wife’s parents were poor farmers. She tells the story
      of her father borrowing an electric drill from a neighbor.
      The drill burned out when her father was using it, and the
      result was that they paid for a new drill for their
      neighbor and had nothing to show for it. What would have
      been the better approach? (Just buy a new drill for

  4. Common Sense

    1. Read Luke 14:28-30 and Proverbs 21:5. What does this
      suggest about the use of our money? (Use common sense!
      Plan carefully. Have a budget. Make sure you have enough
      money for whatever project you have in mind.)

    2. Read Proverbs 22:1. Why do people want to live above their
      means? Why borrow money to look like you have more
      wealth? (You think that brings more esteem. Others think
      better of you.)

      1. What does this text say is better than looking
        wealthy? (Having a good name. The good news is that a
        good name costs you nothing other than keeping your
        word and obeying God.)

      2. If we put the Luke 14 instruction to use common sense
        together with Proverbs 22, does borrowing money to
        look wealthier end up with the result you want? (No.
        You end up poorer. Not only do you have to repay the
        debt, but lenders take part of your money in

    3. Read 1 Timothy 6:6-8. What antidote do we find here to our
      the desire to borrow money to get new things? (Be

    4. Read Proverbs 13:11. If you have an ambition for better
      things, how does this text say we should fulfill that
      ambition? (By saving our money.)

    5. Read 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Is borrowing money that you do not
      need a “foolish and harmful desire?” (If you are borrowing
      to “look rich,” this ambition is a “trap.”)

    6. Re-read Luke 14:28 and apply it to the cars we drive. I
      recall that when I was young, I had two cars and I would
      replace one of them with a new car about every two years.
      I borrowed the money, of course, to buy my cars. One day,
      I looked at my small home with my two “new” cars parked
      outside (my house did not have a garage). What would you
      change about this picture? (I realized that I had my money
      in the wrong place. Cars depreciate, houses often
      appreciate. I bought a much bigger home (with a garage)
      and drove used cars for the next twenty years.)

      1. Will buying less expensive used cars make you feel
        like you are on a diet? You know it is good for you,
        but hate the process? (Consider how God blessed my
        “used car” program. At one point I had two beautiful
        cars in my garage: a red Corvette and a Mercedes two-seat convertible. Outside my garage was a dark blue
        Mercedes S class that I drove to work every day and a
        Dodge Grand Caravan that I used to haul things. The
        total that I paid for all of these vehicles was
        $16,000! I know this seems impossible, but it is

    7. We have been discussing borrowing money for things that we
      do not need. What if we need to borrow money to live? Read
      Matthew 6:28-33. What alternative does God offer to
      borrowing money to live?

      1. What would it look like to “seek first His kingdom
        and His righteousness?” (Being generous with God
        brings blessings, as we have discussed in our
        previous lessons in this series. Second, creating the
        right priorities will help us to have good budgeting

      2. How would you like to live a life without worry about

    8. Friend, your life will be better without debt. Why not
      determine, right now, that by the power of the Holy
      Spirit, you will determine to become a lender and not a

  5. Next week: The Habits of a Steward.