Finances - Debt

What does the Bible say about filing for bankruptcy?

The Bible does not address it directly in the New Testament. However, there are some implications about bankruptcy in the Old Testament in that once every seven years, there was to be a cancellation of debt. And then would come, after every seven periods of seven years, a 50th Year of Jubilee, according to Leviticus 25. That was the year that all debts were supposed to be cancelled. In a sense, America has given people the opportunity to have a Jubilee through bankruptcy.

Now, it’s not something to heedlessly take advantage of because it does affect your credit. And it does affect your ability to purchase things or get a job. And it does show that you were irresponsible with your finances in some cases. So I don’t encourage bankruptcy. But is it permissible according to Scripture? Yes, it is – for two reasons: 1) because God is a God of second chances and 2) because our government legally offers it as an alternative to being crushed and destroyed by financial problems.

But I would caution anyone considering bankruptcy to examine the reasons why you’re at that point. And if you don’t deal with the things that got you there, it will be only a matter of time before you wind up there again. So is there forgiveness for bankruptcy, and is there sometimes a necessity for it? Yes, even recognizing that there are people who will abuse the system, just as there are people who will abuse anything in our government system. If you’re one of them, I believe it’s totally wrong. But if you have no alternative and you’ve had counsel, godly counsel and financial counsel, and come to the conclusion that it’s your only option, then I think that it’s a good thing. But, again, you must also deal with the root causes.

Finances - Debt

I have a question about debt. Someone told me that having debt, like a mortgage payment or a car loan, something like that is sinful because the Lord didn’t want you to have any debt. They were referring to Romans 13:8, where it says owe no man anything.

Except to love him. Right. The Bible says “owe no man anything except to love him.” In other words, we should not be in debt to people, except the only debt that should always be paid, that we should continue to pay and never feel like we’ve paid it enough is love. The focus on that verse is really on love, not so much on borrowing money. The Bible clearly says in the Old Testament that we should lend to many nations but shall not borrow. Well, if we’re going to lend to people, then the fact is that it can’t be sinful to borrow if we’re going to lend. If we lend, then somebody will be doing the borrowing. How can that be sinful if God is telling us to do the lending? So, it is not sinful to have a mortgage on your home.

Now the perfect will of God is that you wouldn’t have to owe a mortgage. The good will of God is to have a house and to not be paying rent. Yes, you’ll get a mortgage, but the house has more value than what you owe. As long as the house has more value than what your mortgage is, then that’s not sinful. It’s sinful to run up credit card debt because you don’t have the money to buy it. If you have the money to pay for the mortgage payment on your house in a reasonable time and you’re being a good steward and you’re honoring God by giving Him the first tenth of everything you have, that’s okay. Is it better to not have to have a mortgage? Yes. But that is not practical for most people. Would it be better to wait? Yes, if you can wait to have all the money and pay for it cash. That’s the perfect will of God. The good will, acceptable in the will of God is to have a mortgage. There is nothing in the Bible that says that is wrong.

Finances - Debt

My husband and I are going through some things financially. I wanted to know when God makes you a promise, when God tells you you can have something, I don’t believe that He’ll take it away from you. Different people that I’ve asked about that have tried to make us feel like we were wrong for wanting a home or whatever. Is there a Scripture that God won’t take away what He has given to you?

Well, Romans chapter 11 says that God’s gifts are without repentance. They’re irrevocable. When He gives something, He doesn’t take it away.

So, the question really needs to be asked, Did God give it? Was He the one who gave it? In other words, you might feel like God gave you a new car. But really, the bank gave you the car because you were willing to get a five year loan for the car. And now you can’t make the payments anymore. And you don’t want the bank to take your car away, but they own it. They’re the ones that have the right to the car if you’re not making the payments. And you could say, “Is God taking my car away after He gave it to me?” In that case, I would say, God wasn’t the one that gave it to you. It was the bank that gave it to you and it was you that gave it to yourself.

And so, I think in things like that, we have to use wisdom and we have to truly understand that once God does give something, no, He won’t take it away. But we have to determine if that really came from God or not. If we have to borrow a ton of money in order to have it and then say that God gave it to us, then we’re stretching the truth and we’re not really being faithful with what we have.

If God has promised you this home and if this is truly from Him, then He’s going to make a way where there is no way. And a door is going to open where you can keep your home, so don’t give up. But at the same time, it may be a blessing to sell this home and be in a place where it’s more affordable and to downsize until you can build up your business again and build up your base, until you and your family can build up a financial strength that doesn’t prohibit you from being able to keep your house.

It’s okay to start over. I know many people that have sold their house because of financial problems. They downsized for a season of time. And then they built their finances back up. They learned God’s system of doing things and now they’re better off two or three or four years later.

And it’s worth it to be able to go to bed at night and not be stressed out financially. I want to see you to be able to do that. And the only way for you to be able to do that is to be in an affordable situation where you have more money coming in than that which has to go out, where your income outweighs your outflow. That’s where you need to get it to.

Balance your budget. That’s the problem in America. Even our nation doesn’t have a balanced budget. We need to have a balanced budget as a country. And you and I and everybody else needs to have a balanced budget personally. So, that’s how I would encourage you to do that. And don’t be ashamed. And don’t feel bad if you have to do that. Again, I’ve seen people who have had to do that and they came out way more successful a few months and years later. And you will, too.