If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest. – Exodus 22:25
One of the most difficult ministries to manage within a local church has to be benevolence. It is so challenging, in fact, that many churches abandon it altogether, choosing instead to form an alliance with other churches in a sort of “clearing house” to meet needs. This takes some of the pressure off of an individual congregation and also keeps untrustworthy people from abusing the system by traveling from church to church asking for help with a problem that has already been solved by someone else.
But what if the need is within the local church family? Then what do you do?
God instructed Moses on the process of meeting needs among the Israelites. Apparently, they were not in the habit of giving aid, but would gladly lend it, with interest. In that culture and age if the lender could not repay, he (and his family) would become indentured servants until the debt was cancelled (every seventh year). Of course, interest on the loan made it that much harder to eradicate the debt and many were forced into “employment.”
Well, that was then, and this is now, so what can we do? As a practical matter, never loan money to a brother or sister in Christ, unless you are willing to freely give them the same amount. In fact, it is more gracious and wiser to consider it a gift from the start, that way it may never become a divisive issue between you.
Lending money to a brother or sister in Christ, even if it is interest-free, creates an accountable relationship that can sometimes be productive, but perhaps it is ultimately better to give.
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. – John Bunyan