This is a scary topic isn’t it? Lend, and without expectation of repayment? That’s just not how we do things! After all, this is America—in the 21st Century—and we have laws! So does God. And one of his directives to us is to lend without expectation of repayment; consider the following:
”But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”—Luke 6:35
”If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.”—Exodus 22:25
”But you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.”—Deuteronomy 15:8
None of this is meant to be a stab at the lending industry—it is, after all, a business established precisely for the purpose of lending for profit, and that’s quite OK. The biblical directives are meant for us as individuals. If that seems somehow unfair, think about some of the following…
If you’re even in a position to lend money, you’ve been blessed!
God doesn’t look down on us and declare our righteousness based on our prosperity any more than considering the poor to be cursed because of their lack of it. However, if you do have some measure of prosperity, it is a blessing, and blessings are to be shared with those who don’t have it.
We can possess prosperity but we don’t ever own it. What we do with it when it’s in our possession is what matters to our Heavenly Father, and sharing it with those less fortunate than ourselves is one of the highest uses.
Lending is another form of giving
If we would give to the needy why would we not also lend to them as well? We’re blessed to be in a position to do either. Lending, in fact, has a dimension that giving doesn’t—the possibility of repayment. We’re not to expect it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Either way, we’re blessing others with our prosperity and that’s a form of giving.
A lot of people can’t get bank loans anymore
Another critical side of loaning money to others is that we find ourselves in a time where not only have a lot of people seen their incomes and credit profiles deteriorate, but also that credit standards have been tightened. As result millions are unable to get a bank loan for any purpose.
A loan of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars may enable someone to pay a medical co-payment, fix a car, buy a used car, or make a much needed home repair. It’s a way of helping in a substantial way. And when you make it a “loan”, it feels less like a hand out. That can be important because many of the downtrodden equate charity with permanent poverty and that’s a place no one wants to be. Calling it a loan—even if you give with no expectation of repayment—makes the money seem more like a reciprocal arrangement that gives the receiver some hope for control over his circumstances.
Lending to family and friends
The Bible tells us to lend freely to the needy and even to our enemies. In all likelihood this will in reality be a direct gift. After all, if we’re lending to strangers we may not ever see or hear from them again, let alone get paid back.
But family and friends are probably really where the lending aspect arises. We see them all the time so a loan can exist if only informally. And we should lend to people close to us who are in legitimate need. If we won’t lend to family and friends—and we’re in a position to do so—what does that say about us? And can we reasonably expect help from them if ever the day comes that we’re needy?
Lending to family and friends is a way to help them get back on their feet. But perhaps even more important, it’s also your statement that you have faith that they will recover from their troubles, and you want to help make that happen. Your friend or family member almost certainly needs for others close to him to believe in him–be that person.
Charity begets charity—trust in God
Whether we give by direct contributions or by loans, we’re declaring that we trust God for the outcome. We’re saying we trust that the money will help the recipient in a constructive way, that we’ll be OK whether or not we’re ever paid back, and that if we’re ever in need, God will provide someone to help us. In that way, we’re trusting in God to “pay us back” even if the person we loan the money to can’t.
Lending to a person who has no chance of paying you back is also counterintuitive. By going against your own “better judgment” you’re making a strong statement of trust in God—that you trust God more than you trust the world or your own instincts. That’s a very deep level of faith, and maybe that’s the reason God asks us to do it.
What do you think about the directive to lend money? Is doing so somehow different today than it was in biblical times?