(Unsplash/Fabian Blank)

The richest man who ever lived, King Solomon, famously warned that "the borrower is slave to the lender."

How true. But those of us who are not counted among the wealthy are nevertheless forced to deal with debt as we make our way through the modern world. Debt is not a sin, as the Bible gives instructions on how to have debt but not, for example, on how to have adultery. Debt is simply a form of bondage which should be avoided if possible.

Some debts can actually lessen bondage. When choosing between renting a home or taking out a mortgage to buy one, remember that the landlord has more and quicker legal rights than a mortgage lender. By buying with a mortgage, you have less bondage than a renter and can turn the home into a substantial asset and a key part of your financial freedom as you pay off the home. Another example would be an auto loan for a car you need to go to work. Finally, many small businesses must carry some debt to operate. Just don't get more house, car or business than you can afford.

But the real bondage trap debt usually catches us by appealing to our desire for instant gratification. Credit cards allow us to make impulsive purchases, then trap us into paying interest rates up to 30 percent. Desperate people will pay up to 500 percent, yes 500 percent, interest for a payday loan. Students are lured into debt by overpriced universities and often end up in virtual slavery to their lenders. By snaring you in debt, these lenders are turning your productive efforts into a stream of interest payments, thus enslaving you for their benefit.

So old King Solomon was right about debt. But he also advises those trapped in debt to humbly negotiate their freedom from their creditors (See Prov. 6:1-5). This is a foundation of our system of debt relief.

Avoid the debt traps if you can, but if you have been caught, take Solomon's advice and do what you must to get free.

Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries, spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.

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