Monday 16 July 2012


Are you kidding? How can debts be good? 

Hasn’t it become second nature to us that debts are evil? It has been constantly drummed into us that we have to be cautious about taking on debt and pay them off as soon as we can.

It is true we have to be wary about consumer debt. That is when we borrow money to buy a car or any item (like handphone or furniture) which depreciates in value over time.

We’ve to be careful not to incur unnecessary debts. If our debt burden is huge, our lives will be fraught with anxiety and care as we become slaves to the lender. We will not be able to serve God effectively as the pesky “debt monkey” will always be riding piggy back on us.

But not all debts are negative.

Some debts help to fund well-meaning goals such as investing in a business, a child’s education or real estate, all of which have the potential to increase in value over time.

It doesn’t mean the business will definitely succeed or the child will make best use of the education qualifications acquired to carve out his or her own niche in life. Or that the property will surely bear handsome rental returns or show significant capital appreciation. But the potential is there in all these different scenarios.

Believers, however, must continually embrace another kind of debt:
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).*

In other words, we are to pay your financial debts as they become due – or better still prepay (before they are due). However, there is one debt we can never finish paying. It is the ‘debt of love’ that we owe one other.

Believers also need to recognise the fact they forever indebted to the One who has saved them:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).


Christ went through all the beatings, shame and agony in order to save us from our sins. For “we were redeemed from our past life with the precious blood of Christ” – not with perishable things such as silver or gold (1 Peter 1:18-19).


So we owe a ‘debt of gratitude’ to God which we will never be able to repay.


While we are on earth, grappling with earthly debt at different life stages, we have to remind ourselves of this other perspective of debt – the debts we owe to God and one another – from which we will never be discharged as long as we have breath.






* This verse in Romans 13:8 has often been misinterpreted, being used as a blanket injunction against debt. But the warning is not against debt per se.

The Bible warns us against going into debt without good reasons. We are to use debt judiciously and not to bite off more than we can chew.

Building a good credit history, especially when we are young, is important. It will set us on the road to financial freedom if we know how to harness the power of credit.

If we go into debts, we have a moral obligation to repay them; failing to do so is evil. “The wicked borrow and do not repay” (Psalm 37:21).

Debt is the mechanism which oils the wheels which turn industries, businesses and families around. Use it wisely and it will be your friend. Misuse it and it will enslave you. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

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