Daily Bible Radio

Risk Bearing Righteousness

Exodus 22:14-15 :

“If a man borrows anything of his neighbor’s, and it is injured, or dies, its owner not being with it, he shall surely make restitution. If its owner is with it, he shall not make it good. If it is a leased thing, it came for its lease.

This rule might make you think twice about borrowing something. God makes it clear that when something is borrowed, the borrower is taking the full risk. The opposite is true when something is rented. I admit that I could have used this knowledge years ago. It's too bad I never considered its implications back then.

King Solomon will later tell us in the Bible that a borrower is a slave. You must pay back all of what you borrow. That is what God's righteousness demands. This topic takes on a special and contemporary significance when considered in regard to mortgages.

God wants us to give back what we borrow. Just because things are damaged, doesn't mean that we don't owe for what we borrowed. If we borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars, we ought to pay all of it back. I see no indication that, within a seven year period, that God condones "bankruptcy." It appears that no loans should be offered above a seven year period according to God's law to Israel. I am not knowledgeable enough at this time to say whether it should ever extend beyond that amount today, but I can say that borrowing is like slavery.

Rent is entirely different. When you rent, you pre-pay for a specific amount of time. The risk for rent is shared and risk for a complete loss remains on the owner. I used to think that there really wasn't much difference between renting taking a loan, but the Bible makes it clear that the difference is in who bears the risk. It is true that you pay monthy when renting and you pay monthly when paying off a loan, but the difference comes when you can't sell the property. Whoever is stuck with it then, and still owes, will still have to pay the full amount. A renter is released to find a cheaper way to live after the term is over.

It's important for us to remember that these things we are reading provide insight into how to interpret the Ten Commandments like I mentioned before. To go against these things about borrowing and renting is to disobey the eighth commandment that tells us not to steal. That's what a person does when they don't pay back what they borrow. It also relates to the ninth commandment because failing to give something back that you promised to return is lying.

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