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Owe No One Anything

In this modern age credit has exploded. Most everyone has a wallet full of charge cards, from banks, department stores, and oil companies. There is nothing inherently immoral about this, and yet to many those little plastic devils are a grave temptation that enables their discontentment and addiction to things.

Paul wrote the Romans to "Owe no one anything except to love one another" (13:8). This passage is not outlawing all debt, for other passages seem to regulate the practice. As Clinton Hamilton writes in his commentary on Romans, "One may have incurred a debt which if due in the present must be paid because that is the appointed time for it to be paid. Until that point, it is not due. One must not be in arrears in the payment of a debt" (Romans, page 725).

Paul is telling us not to get in situations in which we cannot pay a debt when it is due. Credit cards, mortgages, and car loans have the potential to get people in exactly that situation. The answer to credit trouble, unfortunately, is usually more credit. Carry the balance; take out a second mortgage, whatever it takes. Revolving credit can be a bottomless pit. The over-extension of credit often leads to bankruptcy, in which a man's creditors are usually paid only a small percentage of what they are owed.

This is immoral and a violation of Romans 13:8. Yet the vile seeds were sown long before, when we thought we could be happy if we only had more things.

The problem is more fundamental than a lack of possessions; it is a lack of contentment. Learn how to enjoy life with what you can afford and when more comes, you will appreciate it better (Phil. 4:11). Credit is not always bad, but if it is a substitute for godly contentment, you will regret it all the way to hell.