Pastor’s Desk February 10th

“My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou has stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou are snared with the words of thy mouth, thou are taken with the words of thy mouth.  Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou are come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.  Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.  Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.”  Proverbs 6: 1-5

Dear Friends,

     “The borrower is servant to the lender.”  “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  These are two adages that had to come from someone with prior experience.  The world is full of the “haves” and the “have nots.”  The “haves” are always asked to contribute, invest, or lend to charitable causes, worthy endevors, and people in need.  The “have nots” are normally jealous of the “haves” and see them as a source of financial relief and available cash during times of adversity.  Before the days of banks and credit card companies’, a personal loan from a friend or family member was the only money available.  The other possibility was for a friend to co-sign a promissory note with you guaranteeing the lender that if you did not pay the money back your co-signer would be responsible to pay.  I am sure there are times when this works well, but as a general rule of thumb, it is foolish to enter into such an agreement.  As a friend or family member it is better to give the money with no thought of repayment, than to co-sign for a loan and then be disappointed or responsible for the mismanagement of funds.  This is what Solomon was talking about in this passage of Scripture. 

     There are at least three reasons I would give not to enter into such a financial contract with anyone.  You might actually be doing your friend or family member an injustice by loaning them the money or being a co-signer of their loan.  First, it might not be God’s will for them to be going into debt to finance a purchase.  Secondly, you might be contributing to frivolous spending and gambling.  Thirdly, you are putting your friendship and relationship in jeopardy.  If the person defaults on the loan and you end up having to pay, the friendship will be severely impacted and ultimately destroyed.  I know there are times we all need a little help, but it is wise to never put yourself in a position that your own financial stability could be put at risk. 

     For most parents, the temptation is to take that kind of chance only when our children are involved.  We might never consider co-signing for a friend, but feel obligated to do the same for our children.  Everything from college loans to automobile purchases require parents to obligate themselves as “surety” for their children’s debts.  The question is:  Does everything our children want even closely resemble what they really need?  Does Susie need that BMW or could she get by with a used Chevrolet for transportation?  Does Luke need to go to that private college up north, or can he get most of what he needs at the community college down the road?  Does Julie really need that off campus apartment when she lives close enough to home to commute?  I have known of parents who almost lost everything by co-signing with a child on a business adventure only to see it fail.  I know of successful grandparents who put themselves at risk and disadvantage trying to keep their grandchild a float amidst a flood of financial debt caused by poor decisions.  Once again, it is better to do what we can by contributing with a monetary gift rather than putting ourselves at risk by making ourselves a co-signer for our children’s financial decisions. 

     I want to end this lesson by addressing the issue of finance companies, title loan companies, and high interest rate credit cards.  In my humble opinion, these should never even be considered as a source of cash.  In my experience dealing with people who have incorporated their services, they only dug a financial hole so deep they could never get out.  Let me tell you about Ms. Ann.  Ann was an eighty something year old widower, who had sold her home and moved into a small house near the church as a renter.  She had an older model car that she used to drive to church and go to the grocery store in.  We knew that money was tight for her.  I and the deacons would often ask, “Ms. Ann are you doing alright?”  “Is there anything you need?”  “Yes honey, I am doing just fine,” she would reply.  One day her nephew found Ms. Ann dead in her little house.  As they were going through bills and medicines they came upon a chilling discovery.  Ms. Ann had used her old car as collateral to obtain a personal loan. When the loan became due, rather than lose her car, she stopped taking her heart medicine to have money to pay on the loan.  In the end it was a heart attack and a title loan company that killed her.  (I hope you understand what I mean?) Our church and her family members paid for her funeral expenses. The wisdom of Solomon is very evident in his financial advice in Proverbs.  We would do well to heed it today.

In Christ,

Pastor Johnny