“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)
In 1979 Bob Dylan released his huge hit “Gotta Serve Somebody” with its refrain:
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
As Americans, most of us probably don’t like the idea of “serving” anybody. Some translations render Proverbs 22:7 as “the borrower is servant to the lender,” but other translations call the borrower a “slave.” (This is because the ancient Hebrew language had one word for the English words “servant” and “slave.”)
Dylan was singing, no matter who you are, you have to serve somebody. But over 2,000 years before Bob Dylan, the Bible warned: if you’re in debt, you are a servant to your creditor. (If you don’t believe it, try skipping a few car or house payments and see what happens.)
It is almost hard to remember now, but as recently as January of this year, the US economy was still white-hot, the stock market was at historic highs, and unemployment was at record lows. Still, warning signs loomed even then.
One survey showed that, even in those “boom times” (a mere 3-4 months ago), some 40% did not even have enough money to cover a $1,000 emergency. For millions of Americans, even in good times, missing one paycheck or getting hit with one surprise (car repair? new water heater?) meant turning to debt because there was no emergency fund, no “margin” to draw on.
Enter Covid 19: with the sudden threat of pandemic and cascading business closures, millions were thrown out of work–some 30 million at last count. For people living paycheck to paycheck or those with debts like a mortgage or car payment, these times can be terrifying. On the other hand, for people who have been living debt-free and have an emergency fund, these are still challenging times, but the terror is removed because they have some financial and emotional “margin,” some “breathing room.”
Which group are you in? Even if you’re in debt now, resolve to get debt free so you will no longer be a “slave” to your lenders. God wants His children to be free! “… where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 2:17b (New American Standard Bible)