Eight Arguments Against Debt 8 – Predicting the Future

There are Biblical grounds for staying out of debt. Any one of these is sufficient reason for people to avoid debt, as much as it is within their power. When put together, they become a formidable array of reasons why debt should be avoided.

8. Predicting the Future

None of us knows the future with any certainty. The future is known to God alone, and we must live each day in ongoing dependence for His daily provision during the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, "In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good." Although God is our heavenly Father and promises never to leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6), this does not mean we have a trouble-free life. Christians get sick; they are killed in battle; and their businesses can flounder.

When we take on debt, however, we are saying that we know the future with enough certainty that we can guarantee payment of the loan. The Sabbath year debt cancellation, however, places a limit on how far we can safely make these kinds of assumptions about the future. The person who takes on a 25-year mortgage is, in effect, saying to the lender that he is sufficiently knowledgeable about the next 25 years that he can guarantee to make the repayments. Our choice is whether we accept God's limitation on debt or whether we substitute our own standards for those which He has given us in the Bible.

This point is appropriate to those who are self-employed in some form, especially farmers. In the present economic recession many farmers have gone to the wall because of lower commodity prices. The depressed prices might occur because of poor weather or because of international and local price fluctuations caused by supply and demand conditions. Individual farmers have no control over prices and any sudden drop can make the repayment of farm debt difficult, if not impossible. It is those farmers in debt who are suffering most in the present conditions. Those without debt certainly are making no more income than those with debt, but since they don't have repayments to meet they can wait more patiently until the economic situation improves.

When people take on long-term debt and ask God to bless their activities, they are, in effect, asking God to do whatever is necessary to make sure they can keep their commitments. This is an attempt to manipulate God, rather than live in the shadow of His bountiful goodness and daily provision for us. It is because we don't know the future that we should limit our guesswork about how God will deal with us in the future. To make promises to a lender that we can meet repayments for the next 25 years is clearly a presumption on our part and a mistaken notion about God's providence.

These eight reasons accumulate to a serious proposition that debt, is almost completely prohibited in Scripture. The modern proclivity to use debt for so many purposes certainly finds no warrant in the Bible. It is also certain that debt has contributed to the economic problems of formerly great nations. Therefore, the person who is serious in approaching his wealth, both its accumulation and its preservation, will do everything in his power to handle debt, in a manner which conforms to the requirements of God's Holy Word.

It is important to note that none of these arguments is an economic one. They are all moral arguments. This is not an argument in the first instance over whether debt is a good use of money. The decisions over debt and its use should not be made on pragmatic grounds (e.g. "This is the only way I'll get a house,") but on ethical considerations: "What saith the Lord?" This is the only way to secure a financial future.

Any one of these is sufficient reason for people to avoid debt as far as possible. When accumulated together, they become a formidable array of reasons why debt should be avoided, by a person wishing to obey God's Word.

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