Generous Lending 

"At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts." Deut 15:1

The Christian community long misunderstood the Biblical command not to take interest as applicable to all situations and this lost the banking business to the Jews. This is a total misunderstanding of the Bible. The forbidding of interest was only for loans to the poor and needy who were in financial difficulties.

The Old Testament made it almost mandatory for the well to do to give loans to help the poor to tide over the financial difficulties they were facing. These loans were to be without interest, and no profit was to be made off the misfortune of the poor (Leviticus 25:35-37).

The Bible also teaches against laziness and being unwilling to work, and so these poor need to be understood as those who were victims of misfortunes like illness and natural disasters, and not people who did not work.

What was to be done If they could not repay the loan? The Bible says that such loans were to be written off in the year of the Jubilee, which took place every seventh year. 

Because of the jubilee of the seventh year, it could become difficult for the poor to obtain loans near the year of jubilee. In Deuteronomy 15:9-10 the Bible warns against such thinking.

Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 

The Bible commanded the rich to give loans freely, knowing fully well that these loans may never be paid back.

Today, for most of us, such requests for loans come from the poor around us. How do we respond to these requests? While the Bible does not encourage irresponsible living (2 Thessalonians 3:10), the Bible asks us to have a generous and compassionate outlook towards the poor, even giving repeated loans which are not repaid.

Do you hold grudges against people who have not returned what they borrowed from you?