What does the Bible say about filing for bankruptcy?
The Bible does not address it directly in the New Testament. However, there
are some implications about bankruptcy in the Old Testament in that once every
seven years, there was to be a cancellation of debt. And then would come, after
every seven periods of seven years, a 50th Year of Jubilee, according to
Leviticus 25. That was the year that all debts were supposed to be cancelled. In
a sense, America has given people the opportunity to have a Jubilee through
Now, it’s not something to heedlessly take advantage of because it does affect
your credit. And it does affect your ability to purchase things or get a job.
And it does show that you were irresponsible with your finances in some cases.
So I don’t encourage bankruptcy. But is it permissible according to Scripture?
Yes, it is – for two reasons: 1) because God is a God of second chances and 2)
because our government legally offers it as an alternative to being crushed and
destroyed by financial problems.
But I would caution anyone considering bankruptcy to examine the reasons why
you’re at that point. And if you don’t deal with the things that got you there,
it will be only a matter of time before you wind up there again. So is there
forgiveness for bankruptcy, and is there sometimes a necessity for it? Yes, even
recognizing that there are people who will abuse the system, just as there are
people who will abuse anything in our government system. If you’re one of them,
I believe it’s totally wrong. But if you have no alternative and you’ve had
counsel, godly counsel and financial counsel, and come to the conclusion that
it’s your only option, then I think that it’s a good thing. But, again, you must
also deal with the root causes.
I have a question about debt. Someone told me that having debt, like a mortgage payment or a car loan, something like that is sinful because the Lord didn’t want you to have any debt. They were referring to Romans 13:8, where it says owe no man anything.
Except to love him. Right. The Bible says “owe no man anything except to love
him.” In other words, we should not be in debt to people, except the only debt
that should always be paid, that we should continue to pay and never feel like
we’ve paid it enough is love. The focus on that verse is really on love, not so
much on borrowing money. The Bible clearly says in the Old Testament that we
should lend to many nations but shall not borrow. Well, if we’re going to lend
to people, then the fact is that it can’t be sinful to borrow if we’re going to
lend. If we lend, then somebody will be doing the borrowing. How can that be
sinful if God is telling us to do the lending? So, it is not sinful to have a
mortgage on your home.
Now the perfect will of God is that you wouldn’t have to owe a mortgage. The
good will of God is to have a house and to not be paying rent. Yes, you’ll get a
mortgage, but the house has more value than what you owe. As long as the house
has more value than what your mortgage is, then that’s not sinful. It’s sinful
to run up credit card debt because you don’t have the money to buy it. If you
have the money to pay for the mortgage payment on your house in a reasonable
time and you’re being a good steward and you’re honoring God by giving Him the
first tenth of everything you have, that’s okay. Is it better to not have to
have a mortgage? Yes. But that is not practical for most people. Would it be
better to wait? Yes, if you can wait to have all the money and pay for it cash.
That’s the perfect will of God. The good will, acceptable in the will of God is
to have a mortgage. There is nothing in the Bible that says that is wrong.
My husband and I are going through some things financially. I wanted to know when God makes you a promise, when God tells you you can have something, I don’t believe that He’ll take it away from you. Different people that I’ve asked about that have tried to make us feel like we were wrong for wanting a home or whatever. Is there a Scripture that God won’t take away what He has given to you?
Well, Romans chapter 11 says that God’s gifts are without repentance. They’re
irrevocable. When He gives something, He doesn’t take it away.
So, the question really needs to be asked, Did God give it? Was He the one who
gave it? In other words, you might feel like God gave you a new car. But really,
the bank gave you the car because you were willing to get a five year loan for
the car. And now you can’t make the payments anymore. And you don’t want the
bank to take your car away, but they own it. They’re the ones that have the
right to the car if you’re not making the payments. And you could say, “Is God
taking my car away after He gave it to me?” In that case, I would say, God
wasn’t the one that gave it to you. It was the bank that gave it to you and it
was you that gave it to yourself.
And so, I think in things like that, we have to use wisdom and we have to truly
understand that once God does give something, no, He won’t take it away. But we
have to determine if that really came from God or not. If we have to borrow a
ton of money in order to have it and then say that God gave it to us, then we’re
stretching the truth and we’re not really being faithful with what we have.
If God has promised you this home and if this is truly from Him, then He’s going
to make a way where there is no way. And a door is going to open where you can
keep your home, so don’t give up. But at the same time, it may be a blessing to
sell this home and be in a place where it’s more affordable and to downsize
until you can build up your business again and build up your base, until you and
your family can build up a financial strength that doesn’t prohibit you from
being able to keep your house.
It’s okay to start over. I know many people that have sold their house because
of financial problems. They downsized for a season of time. And then they built
their finances back up. They learned God’s system of doing things and now
they’re better off two or three or four years later.
And it’s worth it to be able to go to bed at night and not be stressed out
financially. I want to see you to be able to do that. And the only way for you
to be able to do that is to be in an affordable situation where you have more
money coming in than that which has to go out, where your income outweighs your
outflow. That’s where you need to get it to.
Balance your budget. That’s the problem in America. Even our nation doesn’t have
a balanced budget. We need to have a balanced budget as a country. And you and I
and everybody else needs to have a balanced budget personally. So, that’s how I
would encourage you to do that. And don’t be ashamed. And don’t feel bad if you
have to do that. Again, I’ve seen people who have had to do that and they came
out way more successful a few months and years later. And you will, too.