And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 ESV)
During my college years a former roommate asked me to lend her the equivalent of $750. She had just married and seemed desperate, so I made the loan. I haven’t seen her since. A few years later I told this story to a Christian friend who laughed and said, “Loaning money like that often ends a friendship.”
After that experience, and a couple others where the personal loan I made was actually repaid, I decided to eliminate complications and instead, as God directs, simply give to meet the need without creating an obligation. I have avoided so much agony by making that decision. (An aside: I won’t address dealings with financial institutions here.)
Intentional creation of interpersonal financial or emotional debt is unwise. Those entanglements arise frequently enough without making them happen on purpose. Here’s what Jesus said about being proactive in living our lives as debt-free as possible:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:27-38 ESV)
Maybe you’ve always thought of debt-free as never assuming debt upon yourself. These verses address thoughts and actions that keep us free from making others indebted to us. The bonus is that we are promised an abundant reward as we pursue this lifestyle.
Are you in a situation where someone “owes you”? Ask God what steps you can take to forgive that debt. If necessary, seek wise counsel.