“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor.” Deuteronomy 15:1-2
God cares about the needs of the poor. This Sabbath law of canceling debts is a flagship, leading the way for many other Old Testament laws that were given to alleviate poverty and to help God’s people in times of need. Think about the practical effects of these kind laws:
1. Restraint for lenders
Under this law, no loans lasted more than seven years. Lenders would be restrained from giving loans that were larger than people could reasonably expect to repay in a seven-year period. We are not talking here about mortgages or loans to buy a house. The homes were given by God to his people, and if a person became so poor that they had to sell their home or land, there was another law by which it had to be returned at the Jubilee, which came every 50 years—once in every lifetime.
2. Discipline for borrowers
Since loans were canceled every seven years, the repayment of loans would be scheduled over a maximum of 84 months. In most cases, a loan would be scheduled for repayment much quicker. There is a restraint and a discipline here. God allows his people to borrow money, but he does not want them living on credit.
God did not give this law so that borrowers should default on their loans. This was the kindness of God for the relief of the poor. The principle here is very simple: Borrow if you need to, but borrow as little as you can and repay as fast as you can. This is wisdom from God’s law that is transferable across cultures and across time.
Is there restraint or discipline you need to exercise in your finances?