You probably have figured out by now that I’m not a big fan of debt. That’s partly because in my experience debt has brought me far more misery than blessings. But more importantly as I started to look at what the Bible says about debt, I don’t find much positive. Here are a few of the scriptures that relate to debt.
What the Bible really says about debt
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 NIV
Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. Romans 13:8 CEB
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God … You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. … However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you … The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 12, 15, 43-44 NIV (Deuteronomy 28 is a very interesting chapter. In it Moses is relating to the nation of Israel as they are in the wilderness preparing to enter the promised land exactly what they can expect to happen if they obey or disobey God’s law. If they are obedient there is a long string of blessings. If they are disobedient there is a string of curses. It is interesting to me that among those blessings for obedience is not having debt, and by the same token being in debt is listed as a curse. I’ve listed only the relevant verses above, but you might consider reading the entire chapter for context.)
The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers. Psalms 37:21 NLT
If, then, you have not been faithful in handling worldly wealth, how can you be trusted with true wealth? Luke 16:11 GNT
“If you lend money to any of my people who are in need, do not charge interest as a money lender would. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as security for a loan, you must return it before sunset. This coat may be the only blanket your neighbor has. How can a person sleep without it? If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am merciful. Exodus 22:25-27 NLT
Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. Proverbs 22:26-27 NIV
My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger — if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said — follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net. Proverbs 6:1-5 NLT
Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Ecclesiastes 5:5 NKJV
It’s stupid to guarantee someone else’s loan. Proverbs 17:18 CEV
Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe. Proverbs 11:15 NIV
Debt is not a positive
While I do not believe the Bible teaches that being in debt is a sin, I do believe based on these scriptures the Bible clearly indicates that being in debt is unwise.
Proverbs 10:22 says “The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” Sadly, too often debt is followed by sorrow.
The bottom line for me is that I can find nowhere in the Bible where God’s people were ever blessed by debt. While I can come up with scenarios that might seem to make mathematical sense for “using other people’s money” or beating the system in a variety of ways, I must come back to the realization that I’m not smarter than God. And in His Word He has made it clear that pursuing debt is not wise.