Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
— Romans 13:8–10
It has never been easier to borrow money than it is today. Many believe that there is an impending financial crisis that will be the result of such a highly leveraged populace. The stock market can face historic swings as a result of investors who are buying “on margin.”
Therefore, the fluctuations in the market are primarily a result of reckless lending and irresponsible borrowers. The financial sector may well experience the meltdown that guys like Larry Burkett predicted. People are living way beyond their means, and that party has to come to an end.
The Bible is very interesting when it comes to the issue of debt. There is no question that non-secured debt “enslaves” the borrower to the lender and we must make every effort to avoid it. If that debt is allowed to grow, then it will eventually paralyze us in a type of self-initiated captivity. Compounding interest is great when you are an investor, but horrible when you are the borrower.
In the passage above, we are warned to steer clear of debt but admonished to remain in debt when it comes to loving our neighbor. In other words, we are not just supposed to respect our neighbor, but to serve our neighbor. This means that we can’t be satisfied with avoiding murder, slander or burglary. There is a proactive element to love — we must step out and serve others like we clearly serve ourselves. This is particularly true when it comes to those inside the “household of faith.” We should view our brothers and sisters in Christ through the lens of love.
So, as you go out today, ask yourself, “How can I express love to those around me?” Tim Sanders, the Chief Solutions Officer for Yahoo, wrote a book called Love is the Killer App. I think he may be on to something — something biblical. In these times of instability, people are feeling like failures, and many of them are spiritually bankrupt. Their only hope is a bailout. You and I had our debt canceled and, perhaps, today we can introduce someone else to the one who set us free. After all, isn’t this what the church is all about?