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What Should a Christian Do About Church Friends Who Don’t Pay Back Money Loaned to Them?

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Dear Chuck,

About 9 years ago I loaned an acquaintance I met at church a substantial amount of money, with documents signed to ensure repayment. The time for repayment has come and gone. This person has since moved out of state, gotten married and has stonewalled me at every attempt to collect. He no longer responds to emails or phone calls. Would I be out of line to take him to court, or contact his family members to enlist their help in getting him to pay his debt? What steps, as a Christian, should I take now?

Unpaid

Dear Unpaid,

I am sorry for your predicament! This is a sad scenario that I hear frequently. It has brought some to the point that they trust Christians less than non-Christians.

There’s an old saying that the definition of a distant friend is a close friend who owes you money.

That’s not always true, but far too often, Christians, intent on helping others, loan money that is never repaid. In addition to losing money, the relationship suffers or is severed.

Lending is not a new principle. There is no record of a society that operated for any period of time without borrowing and lending. Remember the widow in 2 Kings 4:1? She feared her two children were going to be taken by the creditor because she could not pay a debt. She understood the dire meaning of Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) which states “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender”. It carried a much heavier meaning back then. People knew and witnessed the devastating effects of bondage to creditors and tried to avoid it.

Up until a century ago, the lender had almost absolute authority over a borrower. When a loan was not repaid on time, the borrower forfeited everything he owned to his lender. But today we are living in a unique period of history, where the opposite view on debt exists. The borrower can avoid repayment of nearly any indebtedness regardless of how frivolously the money was spent.

Unfortunately, many Christians naively think that other “believers” will behave in God-honoring fashion. We want to trust them. We want to believe the best in them. We want to extend grace and mercy like we ourselves have experienced from others. But unless we are wise and discerning, there are those who will take advantage of our love and compassion, often intentionally. And, there are those who will run when they cannot repay the money they were loaned.

One of the blessings promised by God for obedience to His ways is the ability to loan, at interest and in some cases without interest, to enhance their prosperity (Deuteronomy 28:12). But when it is time to collect, there are boundaries within which we should operate, and those boundaries are narrower than those of the world.

We are not to take another Christian to court. That applies to collection of debts.

“To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7 ESV)

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Chuck Bentley