Regardless of what we think about forgiving debts (any kind of debts), God has had something to say for quite a while now. We can take what God has been saying at face value, we can spin it away because we don’t like it, we can say “Well, it doesn’t really mean that,” or we can just plain ignore it or live in a compartmentalized world pretending that this has nothing to do with money. Regardless of what we do, here’s what I know – I’m going to convince absolutely no one about any of this. I’m willing to bet that if you are reading this, you made up your mind as soon as the announcement about $10,000 in student loan debt relief was announced (Probably without knowing any of the details). Who needs details when all we think about is who benefits from a partisan perspective. Our political parties have become our gods that we worship and follow. I pray that we may be set free from them.
So in light of this, I’m going to list off Scripture related to the cancellation of debt. I’m not interested in your spin, excuses, why it doesn’t mean what it says it means, etc. Please don’t write and tell me how very wrong I am about this – I’ll err on the side of setting people free from the bondage of debt and be quite happy with that. I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing it for me. So why write it at all? Because it’s my blog and I can write what I want on my blog. You don’t have to read it and if you don’t like, that’s completely fine. Write your own blog if you want to. I’m not interested in debating this – I don’t have the energy to debate it. No one is forcing you to read it.
So why am I listing these passages? To remind me what God has to say about cancellation of debt. If you don’t want to believe it – so be it. That’s your problem. If you don’t like it, I’m not your problem. Your problem is with God – take it up with him.
Deuteronomy 15:1-2 – “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed.” (Continue reading through verse 23 for more about forgiving debts of all sorts. This chapter is loaded with the laws around debts and forgiving of debts).
Matthew 6:12 – “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Luke 11:4 – “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”
Matthew 18:23-35 – “‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves…” (Continue reading through verse 35 to see how God forgives unpayable debts and calls on followers to do likewise because that’s what grace is all about). Verse 27 states: “And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (In other words he didn’t deserve it, couldn’t pay it, and yet still released him of his debt because that’s what God does).
Proverbs 22:7 – “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Not specifically about debt cancellation, but certainly related to it.)
Luke 7:36-50 – Here’s a portion of it – “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. …”
2 Kings 4:1-7 – “Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.’Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ She answered, ‘Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.’ He said, ‘Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbours, empty vessels and not just a few. Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.’ So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ But he said to her, ‘There are no more.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live on the rest.’”
Deuteronomy 23:19-20 – “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” (How well are we following this?).
Exodus 22:25-27 – “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”
Luke 4:8 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,” This isn’t specific about debt cancellation, but I’m curious what could be better news to the poor than the cancellation of debts?
Romans 13:8 – “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Deuteronomy 24:6 – “Do not take a pair of millstones—not even the upper one—as security for a debt, because that would be taking a person’s livelihood as security.”
Job 24:9 – “The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.”
Nehemiah 10:31 – “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.”
Proverbs 28:8 – “Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.”
1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Not about debt cancellation, but a good reminder that valuing money over people is a problem.
Ezekiel 18:8 – “He does not lend to them at interest or take a profit from them. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between two parties.”
Ezekiel 18:13 – “He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.”
Ezekiel 22:12 – “In you are people who accept bribes to shed blood; you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
Colossians 2:14 – “By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”