“My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, If you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself, press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” Proverbs 6: 1-5
Have you ever been asked to cosign a note for a friend? That’s what Solomon is warning us about in these verses. That’s like saying, if my neighbor is unable to pay his note, I will.”
In my years of ministry, I have been approached more that once with a request to cosign a bank note. I recall a young couple stopping by our house who had only been attending our church for a short time. I soon learned that this visit was more than a social call. “Pastor, we’ve been looking at trading our old car off. We found this little beauty. I was given permission to come and see you about perhaps helping us out by cosigning a note for the purchase.”
Such a request made it clear that these young people were interested in more than the spiritual life that the church had to offer. It is also clear that refusing to cosign could cost me the attendance of the young couple.
The pat answer that I have always used when asked for such favors was, “I wouldn’t cosign for my grandmother.” And, I wouldn’t
What the young couple really needed was someone to teach them money management. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” What the young couple needed to learn was that to sign a note at the bank makes them the slaves of the bank.
Anyone who might cosign that note immediately becomes the slave of both the first signer and the bank as well.
Credit cards inAmericahave made access to money and “things” very easy. “Buy now with your credit card and pay no interest for a year.” Most folks who take that offer reach the end of the year and still can’t pay for the goods. As a result credit card bills inAmericareach in to the billions of dollars.
The reason I said I wouldn’t cosign for my grandmother is that I would never want her to feel like a servant or a slave to me. If it was in my power to do so, I would just give her the money. One of the great blessings of the Christian is the pleasure of giving to those who are in need.
My wife and I have learned that it is not how much money we make, but what we do with the money that God gives us. What a pleasure it is to put money in the hands of someone who has a legitimate need. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.” How true that is! The most practical investment that I know about is the privilege of giving tithes and offerings toward the eternal work of God.
There was a brief period early in our ministry when I became so ill that I was unable to earn enough money to take care of my young family. At this very discouraging juncture in my life, I learned of the generosity of people who love the Lord. I survived at the hand of a giving church.
We need to detect the urgency of Solomon’s words. Let’s not be trapped or ensnared by foolish decisions regarding the money God has given us.