TEMPTATIONS, EXTORTIONS AND HOARDING:
Giving In To Temptations Because You Have Genuine Excuses
“He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”—Proverbs 11:26.
Temptation tests your resolve to resist sensual appeals; extortion is using one’s advantage to squeeze benefits from others.
It doesn’t matter how much one may need a car, something is certainly wrong if, in order to buy one, he takes the money that belongs to a person who doesn’t even have a bicycle. The idea here is that if one is generally doing better than the person whose money he is taking, it would constitute a character grossly incompatible with faith in Christ.
Most people don’t intend to outrightly defraud others. This unintended fraud usually begin by a person maintaining that he is only borrowing and that he would pay back sooner rather later. People who fall for this trick are usually those who have the custody of things belonging to others. At the beginning, they may take small amounts that may not seem difficult to repay, but because there is no pressure to pay, they may not pay for a while. Instead of paying, they may ‘borrow’ more. It may continue like that, as we have seen in the previous chapter, until what he has been borrowing accumulates enormously that ultimately it becomes difficult to pay back.
It is understandable how tempting it is to be in a fix yet have the custody of something that the owner may not need soon. If we are honest with ourselves, we should know if we have a problem repaying what we owe others. If this is the case, it is better not to borrow. Struggling to keep oneself from borrowing may not be as difficult as struggling to pay back what one borrowed. Temptations must be resisted. It doesn’t matter how much one is tempted, there is no acceptable excuse for sin.
Most people who like borrowing don’t like paying back. Remember that the Bible describes those who borrow and don’t pay back as wicked: “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth” (Psalm 37:21).
There are also people who borrow mostly small amounts from different people. Cumulatively, their debt-worth becomes unmanageably big. Unless one chooses to be called wicked, this act is dishonourable.
If we tell people that we want to borrow from them because we are going to do the work of God, we will most likely get what we are asking for, especially if they have what we are asking for. Although we may invoke faith that we know God is going to provide so that we pay back, if this act is frequent without repaying the previous debt, we should know that we are no longer doing the work of God in the right way. We would be manipulating people and extorting them. Most believers would be disturbed in their conscience if they refuse to lend money to someone who was going to use the money to do the work of God.
If I borrowed money to go for a particular mission, for example, I wouldn’t go for another mission before I settle the previous debt. Otherwise, I might continue going for missions on credit. I don’t think God would be swayed by the idea that I used the money for missions—and it may not matter for my ultimate accounting that wonderful things happened at the missions. Doesn’t the Bible tell us that many will come to the Lord, pointing out at what they did in His name only to be rejected as evil doers? (Matt. 7:21-23). God does not qualify us by the accomplishments of our life, even if those accomplishments were in His name. Rather, He qualifies us by our character.
I have to repeat this: We shouldn’t behave as if we care for the perishing souls more than God. If God doesn’t provide for missions, we may not device unorthodox ways of getting the money. If we can resist the temptation of always going for missions on credit, how much more should we resist the temptation of always borrowing to use for our personal matters, especially if they are things we can survive without?
It doesn’t matter that people around us are doing far much better than us. We should not allow ourselves to be tempted to want to match them or distinguish ourselves out.
A friend told me of a case where a pastor almost destroyed somebody’s family because of money. He was routinely asking for money from one of the female members of the church. The problem was that the woman’s husband wasn’t saved and so the money that the wife was giving to the pastor was not factored into the family budget. Because of the frequency at which the pastor used to ask for money from her, and sometimes asking for relatively large amounts, the husband suspected that there was something not adding up in their family finances.
He had to ask his wife what she was doing with the money. When he found out that she used to give money to the pastor, he accused the pastor of fleecing his wife and accused his wife of being gullible. The family almost broke up.
It may be understandable that some pastors work under extreme lack. This means that they may over-depend on some of their members who seem to be doing well and generous. But it is also important to remember that the call to do God’s work demands a lot of sacrifice. Some sensitivity and wisdom must also restrain our urges.