Does the Bible say anything about going into monetary debt?

The Bible warns of the dangers of debt and wisdom says that it is best not to accumulate debt. But the Bible does not prohibit all forms of debt. Its harshest words about debt are directed toward abusive lenders, not those in debt.

Proverbs 22:7 warns, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." Debt can become a form of slavery, which is one reason it is best to avoid it if possible. Psalm 37:21 says, "The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives." Romans 13:1–7 tells us we are to respect authority and give to all what is owed. Anyone who takes on debt should plan to repay it, and to do so in a timely manner.

On the other side of the equation, the Bible speaks against lenders who take advantage of those to whom they lend. There is nothing wrong with receiving back a fair interest rate on loaned money (Deuteronomy 23:20; Matthew 25:27). But God did instruct the Israelites not to charge interest when making a loan to a fellow Israelite who was poor (Leviticus 25:35–38). God seemingly linked His delivery of the Israelites out of Egypt to the reason behind His command.

This particular Levitical law would help allow poor people an avenue to climb out of poverty without humiliation or making their debt hole deeper. The loan was intended to help the poor, not as a means of financial gain for the lender.

Interestingly, this law put the lender in a position to extend some of the same type of grace God extends to us. God provided the people of Israel escape from their Egyptian enslavers and their own Promised Land (Exodus; Leviticus 25:38). The lender helped provide an escape for the poor brother. He himself would suffer loss of the use of the money and the interest he might have gained, but he is to make this sacrifice for the benefit of another and out of grateful understanding for the deliverance God freely gave him.

God provides us an escape of sorts from the slavery of sin and a promised future with Him. He does not charge us "interest" on this, but offers salvation and life to us freely (Ephesians 2:8–10; John 10:10). Similarly, we are to respond to God's forgiveness, grace, and mercy by being forgiving, gracious, merciful, and generous with others. Jesus illustrates this in Matthew 18:23–35 (see also Luke 6:27–31).

Romans 13:8 says, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." It is best to avoid debt if at all possible. But, again, the Bible does not prohibit borrowing money. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and obey His direction.

Copyright 2011-2023 Got Questions Ministries - All Rights Reserved.