Borrowing and Lending: The Gift of Enough in a Culture of Excess

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
1583552 fc10d2fb5f z

When my husband and I first started counseling people concerning their finances through Crown Financial Ministries, we thought we would be helping low-income families. Yet after a decade of seeing hundreds of families, only two fit that bill.

The rest were high-income earners with salaries regularly above $100,000, and a few above $200,000. So why were these professionals—some with Ivy League degrees—struggling to make it to their next paycheck?


The Bible is clear, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Eccl. 5:10). Despite earning incomes that placed them in the top .08 percent of the world population, these families were visibly stressed and suffering emotional turmoil, drowning under incredible debts, only a paycheck or two away from bankruptcy. Unlike Paul in Philippians 4:11, they had not learned to be content in whatever their circumstances. Even though they were “well fed” and in a time of “plenty,” they had not learned the secret of being content. By not recognizing that they had enough, they used debt to seek more.

Enslaved to the Lender

We came home after counseling one night and realized that our seventeen-year-old son had a higher net worth than the forty-three-year-old ER doctor we had just met.

Without a healthy fear of debt, combined with a culture willing to loan this former medical student large sums of money, the doctor was now unable to cover his daughter’s braces without a payment plan and extra shifts at the hospital. He was still paying off student loans, and he carried substantial balances on three different credit cards, yet he drove a BMW (on loan from the bank) and wore a designer watch. My son didn’t have a nice car or designer watch, but he did have enough to pay for braces.

How can this be? Though the wisdom of the Bible is thousands of years old, it holds true today more than ever. Proverbs 22:7 warns that the borrower is slave to the lender. Over the last thirty years, our culture has made a steady advancement toward the normalization of debt. My grandmother would never have paid for a washing machine with credit, yet now people put groceries and gas on credit and think nothing of it. As long as they can make the minimum payments, it is perceived as okay.

But it’s not. Easy access to credit has enabled people to live beyond the safety of their incomes. If they see something they want, someone will loan them the money to get it—for a price. The borrower then becomes a slave, without the freedom to change jobs, work fewer hours, or sleep peacefully at night.

What does this mean for Christians? With the wisdom from God’s Word clear, we should minimize the amount of debt we carry for a home and vehicles. Often people rely on the car salesman or the realtor to tell them what they can “afford.” We are promised we’ll “grow into our payments.” We are told that paying off a mortgage is foolish because of the tax credits. Yet having no debt means having freedom to spend our money however we wish. Imagine your money not going to loans or a mortgage. How could that “free money” bless our families and others?

I remember the first time a friend told me she was saving up to pay cash for her next car. As a naïve twenty-something, I didn’t even understand how you could pay cash for a car. I thought everyone had a car payment—it was part of being a grown-up.

So when I married, my husband and I got inspired and paid off both our cars in three years. Then we focused on the house. Determining what enough meant in other areas of our life together, we directed our resources toward the mortgage. It was challenging, but we reached a zero balance in twelve years. Having tasted that freedom, we made a commitment to remain debt free.

Freed to Serve

Over the years, we have seen other families take a stand against debt. We have witnessed them cut expenses, downsize both homes and cars, and add extra shifts at work for a short time. Sure, these efforts took sacrifice, but what we also witnessed was the blessing of incredible joy and peace from their newfound freedom.

The very first step to this financial freedom is embracing the reality that Christ promises to be enough for us. Psalm 23:1 states, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Our needs are already met through a deep, abiding relationship with our creator. “The Joneses” show us the path of those who love money and the things money buys. It’s a path that does not satisfy. It only leaves them empty and stressed yet still seeking more.

Determine enough for your family. We must remember that everything we have—including our job and its wages—is from God. He cares how we steward all our money, not just the part we give back as an offering. Minimize your expenses. Then list all debts—smallest to largest, and attack the smallest one first by paying extra on it each month. Continue through your list with the promise that you will never find contentment in anything other than God and that more freedom awaits as each debt is retired.


Borrowing and Lending

Is it okay for Christians (or Christian businesses) to borrow money? To encourage others to borrow money? To lend money? What does the Bible have to say about appropriate interest rates for loans and credit? Come join us at our virtual table for a discussion about Borrowing and Lending. It’s difficult to purchase a car or a home or an education without agreeing to pay installments on that commodity for many years into the future. Is this what God has in mind for us and for our resources, or are we overthinking things here? Are there practical steps we can take to avoid borrowing money, and does it matter if we’re borrowing money from a family member or from a financial institution? We welcome your stories, your thoughts, and your experiences, whether you’re a borrower or a lender. What have you learned about God, his great gift of redemption, and his work of restoration through the experiences of borrowing and lending the resources entrusted to you?

Featured image by Mark Strozier. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.