Perhaps one of the most sensitive subjects that we could discuss with others pertains to money and more specifically debt (their debt).
If you stop and think about it, most of us would not appreciate others going over our budgets (do you have one?), analyzing our spending habits and being privy to our various debts. Certainly, the family budget is a rather private thing. However, sometimes we may become aware of the dire financial circumstances of others. That knowledge may require us to act. How we act will depend on the situation, but God's word certainly gives us some guidelines when it comes to the subjects of lending and borrowing.
As disciples of Jesus we are to look to Him for a pattern of how we should behave when we become aware of a financial crisis. Some of the most difficult principles Jesus taught relate to our treatment of others including our enemies. It is within that context that Jesus said, “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Lk. 6:34).
Often the previous passage is misunderstood to mean that it is wrong for us to ever loan money with the expectation of it being paid back. However, that can't be the meaning. Note that the previous verse says, “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” Surely no one would interpret that to mean that it is wrong to do good to those who do good to you. Jesus' point is not that these actions are wrong, but that they are not extraordinary. He is calling us to extraordinary behavior, and that will include the willingness to assist even our enemies expecting nothing in return.
The higher morality that the spiritual man is called upon to have in financial matters has two sides to it. It does not just call upon us to be willing to loan in times of need. Where there is a lender there is a borrower, and the spiritual man will honor his debts. Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives.” The ideal situation is to have people who are eager to help others in times of need and people who are desirous of repaying those who have helped. It is the wicked who take advantage of the generosity of others but fail to repay that kindness. Just because the righteous are told to lend expecting nothing in return does not mean that those who receive are not responsible to at least offer repayment.
Many of us have likely had the occasion to help others and have done so expecting nothing in return. However, not all loans are of that nature. Some loans are given benevolently with the understanding that there will be repayment in due time. Circumstances and situations of need versus want often play a part in what the lender expects. No matter what, borrowers are obligated to honor their debts. Borrowing is done with the understanding that there will be repayment.
Occasionally, as brethren seek to help one another, there will be those who neglect to repay what they have borrowed. What is the lender to do in such a circumstance? Scripturally there are two options: He can forgive the debt, or he can follow the pattern of Matthew 18:15-17 to try and get the brother to honor his debt. Some might suggest that the lending brother is obligated to forgive the debt, but that does not necessarily follow.
While certainly there are benevolent situations in which we would all judge that the right thing to do is forgive the debt, this is not always the case. Those who have borrowed and cannot repay because of situations beyond their control are one thing, but those who will not repay are an entirely different matter. In some cases we do our brethren no favor to forgive their debts as we enable them to avoid responsibility and to go back on their word. We who are spiritual are to restore those who are overtaken in a trespass (Gal. 6:1), and that restoration may demand that they pay what they promised they would pay.
Ideally, any negligent borrower would endeavor to repay when confronted by the lender, but if he will not, then that sloth, rebellion and/or dishonesty must be dealt with by using other Christians and the whole church, if necessary, to bring about repentance and honorable action. Indolence is not to be tolerated (2 Thess. 3:6-15). Of course, lenders should be prepared to take the loss before going to worldly courts (1 Cor. 6:7) or out of mercy to a penitent brother (Matt. 18:27).
As lenders and borrowers let's always employ the upright principles that God's inspired word has given to us to guide us in all things that pertain to life and godliness. Let us seek to be merciful and sacrificial lenders and honorable and trustworthy borrowers. (http://www.hillsborohts.com/)
To understand what something is, it is sometimes helpful to observe what something is not. Consider the following.
The church is not a social club. The church was purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). The Son of God did not die for a social organization, but for a "spiritual house" (1 Pt. 2:5). We are not a glorified social center in competition with country clubs and the YMCA. We are the church. We worship God “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24), not in food, fun, and frolic.
Let the YMCA be the YMCA. Let the Country Club be the Country Club. Let the boy scouts and girl scouts be the boy scouts and girl scouts. And please, let the church be the church! (http://www.lovethetruth.net/)
Sometimes people attempt to justify their sinful conduct on the basis of "well everyone else is doing it." If "everyone else" is dressing immodestly, what are we going to do? If "everyone else" is going to a "must see" R-rated movie, what are we going to do? If "everyone else" is lying, stealing, or cheating what are we going to do?
In the days of King Nebuchadnezzar, "everyone else" was bowing down and worshiping his golden image (see Dan. 3:1-7). But what did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego do? They said “let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods...” (Dan. 3: 18). These men loved the Lord and courageously served him regardless of what everyone else was doing.
May we too have the courage to be different. Brethren, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). God's children are not to follow in the sins of others, but are to lead others out of darkness and into the light. (http://www.lovethetruth.net/)