Christians and usury: taking advantage of misfortune?

 

Here’s another tough one. According to USA Today “While millions may lose their homes during the worst housing slump since the Great Depression, some devout Christians among them will do so in part because they will not give up tithing — a voluntary contribution to their churches amounting to 10% of their gross income.”

Let’s first approach this with the scriptural admonition “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5) and “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:8-10)

If brothers and sisters in the Lord have made the mistake of buying more house than they can afford (assuming they have not lost their jobs and have not expereinced a crisis that radically increased their debt [medical bills for example]), should they be helped by other believers to avoid foreclosure?

MY OPINION –

I would be inclined to say, “Perhaps God is teaching you a lesson about desiring too many material things. You must give up the house.” I would, of course, support the idea of praying that the foreclosure could be avoided through a quick sale or other means. But, surely, people must realize that the biblical principal of “what a man sows, that shall he also reap” applies to all of us, saint or sinner. On the other hand, if these same people have many “toys” and expenses that they can give up in order to make their mrtgge payments, such as memberships, cable TV, campers, boats, extra vehicles, time shares, etc. these must be relinguished in order to not bring discredit on the name “Christian”. A Christian, I believe, should never seek bankruptcy unless that is the only way out of a mess that they themselves did not cause (again, unforseen medical issues, job or business loss and resulting long term unemployment, etc.).

How about the idea that Christians are free to “cash in” on other’s misfortunes? Can a God fearing person take advantage of another person’s misfortune to profit themselves?

MY OPINION –

If a believer should be able to facilitate relieving someone else of a tax burden or lien that prevents them from keeping their home, this is the approach that I consider scriptural:

– If possible, bid on the property at a government tax auction (usually at pennies on the value) and arrange to sell it back to the unfortunate person at cost. Of course, this would involve facilitating a re-mortgaging of the property, but perhaps at a greatly reduced payment.

– Pay the person’s “in arrears” if you can, especially if the person is a widowed or orphaned believer and do not require it back from them. If they cannot afford to pay their taxes long term,  find a place to live that they can afford or believers should offer them the option of moving in with a Christian family that can help them mae the most of their means.

– In the case of believers who have experienced catastrophic medical bills or litigious demands that prevent them from being able to pay these bills and provide for themselves as well, I believe bankruptcy is sometimes scripturally legitimized. It’s interesting that bankruptcy laws were loosely based on the seven years jubilee God ordained for Israel in Leviticus 25.

Simply put, I do not believe a true follower of Christ would ever seek to benefit from another person’s misfortune. That speaks only greed and avarice. Paul, in Philippians 2:4 says “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

 Obadiah 1:12-13 says “Do not gloat over your brother’s day, The day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah In the day of their destruction; Yes, do not boast In the day of their distress. Do not enter the gate of My people In the day of their disaster. Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity In the day of their disaster. And do not loot their wealth In the day of their disaster.”

Some help this is!

Some help this is!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by memnan on October 5, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Man, if I’m ever in trouble…I want you on my side…*: )

  2. Let’s pray you are never in too much trouble!

    I don’t propose that I alone can solve these problems, but Christians should be much more attuned to helping one another out. It is very scriptural that we should be willing to sacrifice in order to supply another believer’s needs for food, clothing, shelter and protection.

  3. I agree. A very good and true post.
    Thanks

  4. Posted by memnan on October 19, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    A few nights ago, we were watching a program…I believe on the History Channel about the great depression and the dust bowl disaster…They mentioned the auction of many farm properties where the neighbors got together and agreed to low bid the auctioned properties (cents only) so the owners could repurchase their homes and farms… It would be great if we still had that type of concern for our neighbors today… It was also a witness to the truth of the Word…there is nothing new under the sun.

    The difficulties that many face today pale in comparison to the 1930’s…We seem to be wise and yet total wimps!

  5. Amen and, amen!

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