Q: A friend of mine is always borrowing money from me (usually less than $50 at a time), but in spite of his promises he never pays it back. We’re on a tight budget and can’t really afford to do this, but he says it’s my Christian duty. Is he right? — P.N.
A: The Bible certainly commands us to be generous and to help those who are truly in need. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples to “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
This doesn’t mean, however, that we should allow people to take advantage of us or steal from us, which is exactly what happens when someone promises to repay us but later, without reason, refuses to do so. If we loan money (or anything else) to someone with the understanding that it’s to be repaid, that person is breaking their word if they don’t pay it back, especially if they never had any intention of doing so. The Bible bluntly says, “The wicked borrow and do not repay” (Psalm 37:21).
I don’t know your friend’s financial situation, of course; if he truly needs help, give it to him as a gift. But if he’s just taking advantage of you, the next time he asks I suggest you tell him your family’s needs must come first. You aren’t doing him any favors by allowing him to continue being irresponsible.
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The greatest gift you can give him, however, isn’t money, but the gift of the Gospel. Your friend needs Christ, but are you praying for him and urging him to commit his life to Jesus? Remember: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.