Debt and Wisdom

When the economy is going great, we tend to take if for granted.  But when the wheels start coming off, it gets our attention.  As a nation, we are at full attention.  The current economic crisis can be traced to greed.  This greed manifested itself in many Americans overindulging themselves because they could through credit.  

According to the Bible, debt in and of itself is not evil.  When God, through Moses, was establishing the laws for the people of Israel, He addressed the subject of borrowing and lending and how to pay someone back.  So incurring debt is not a sin.  But the Bible also speaks of being wise about debt and recognizing debt is not something one should pursue.  The reverse is true: we should seek avoid or get out of debt.  A couple of Bible verses come to mind:

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender. – Proverbs 22.7

Owe no one anything, except to love each other… – Romans 13.8

Years ago someone counseled me to try to only go into debt for something that is an investment, something that will appreciate in value.  A house, generally speaking, is a good investment that will appreciate in value.  An education is an investment because it will most likely increase your earning power.  A car is not an investment because it depreciates steadily.  

Sometimes debt is unavoidable.  Several years ago I was taken to the emergency room for anaphylactic shock.  I was in graduate school at the time and my insurance was limited.  I ended up owing that hospital about $1,200.  I didn’t have that much money, so I wrote them a letter explaining I would pay off my debt gradually, sending as much as I could spare each month.  It took me several months, but I eventually paid it off and eliminated my debt to them.

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