Hunted by Proud Hunters – Or How Debt Can Kill You

 Day 6 in Proverbs
Proverbs 6: 1-9 “My child, suppose you agree to pay the debt of someone, who cannot repay a loan.  Then you are trapped by your own words, and you are now in the power of someone else.  Here is what you should do:  Go and beg for permission to call off the agreement.  Do this before you fall asleep or even get sleepy.  Save yourself, just as a deer or a bird tries to escape from a hunter.  You lazy people can learn by watching an anthill.  Ants don’t have leaders, but they store up food during harvest season.  How long will you lie there doing nothing at all? When are you going to get up and stop sleeping.  Sleep a little.  Doze a little.  Fold your hands and twiddle your thumbs.  Suddenly everything is gone, as though it had been taken by an armed robber.”

Proverbs 6:  16-19 “There are six or seven kinds of people the Lord doesn’t like:  Those who are too proud or tell lies or murder, those who make evil plans or are quick to do wrong, those who tell lies in court or stir up trouble in a family.”

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Quite a few years ago now, a co-worker of mine, that I considered to be a friend, asked to borrow money.  She seemed desperate.  I had very little extra money at the time, and the amount she was asking for was about the sum total of that extra money.  But I could tell she was frantic, so I let her borrow the money.  For me, it was a lot of money.  I never asked what she needed it for…..and she never told me.  She was supposed to pay me back immediately.  She didn’t.  She made a lot of promises (with great sincerity and charm) over a period of several years and never delivered on them.

Several years later my car broke down and I desperately needed that money.  I went to my “friend”…who had never paid back even $1 of what she owed me.  She said she didn’t have it to give me, nor did she have a way to get it to repay me.   I had to borrow the money from my parents (note: I did pay them back as soon as possible!)  When I heard from the grapevine she bought a house (meaning somewhere she came up with the money for a down payment), I finally conceded that she had taken advantage of me and never, ever intended to pay me back.  Even more difficult…..I finally conceded she was never really my friend.  probably should have realized that early in the process when she continued to shop, not cut expenses, and never seriously tried to find a way to repay the loan. (So, it takes me a while!) 

The passage starting chapter 6 uses the situation of putting up a bond for someone…..agreeing to pay their debt if they default.  Agreeing impulsively, without knowing all the facts (or maybe agreeing in spite of knowing the facts.)  Solomon advised his son if he found himself in this situation, to get out of it as soon as he possibly could….. to make it a priority.   He described the debtor as a hunter and he who put up the bond as a hunted animal.  (And we thought they were just being nice!)  A perspective worth noting!

I’m not entirely sure who is the sluggard of which Solomon speaks.  My guess is that it could be either his son or that person in debt.  If it is the son, I would think he would be saying that mental laziness gets us into these sort of predicaments, and instead of dealing with them we let them go (as I did with my friend.)  To do this too often can lead to our personal ruin.  In my situation, had I not been able to borrow money from my parents to fix my car, my whole life would have been in turmoil for a while.  As it was, it put me in a situation where I myself became indebted for a period of time.  She pulled me into the abyss with her.  I had no one but myself to blame.

And then there is that person who is in debt.  What are they doing to get themselves out of it?  Are they working any and every job they can to repay the money?  Are they selling things that are precious to them in an attempt to pay their bills?  Living on ramen noodles?  Going without cable tv (or any tv at all), a cell phone, a computer, meals in restaurants?  Or are they “sleeping a little, dozing a little, and twiddling their thumbs”….very comfortable with the fact that they owe money, and going farther and farther into the hole every day.

You may have picked up that I hate debt on about the same level as I hate drugs.  I think they are the same type of addiction and have seen them both destroy lives of people I love and change who they are.  They start innocently, then you get further and further in and they become more and more destructive.  I have determined for myself that the only time debt is allowed is for a car, home, or medical bills.  I’m not even sure about the car…..and I probably could even make a case against the house.  But I have allowed it for myself.  And I choose what I buy with care….after a keen review of my finances.

Verse 16 lists the prideful as the first type of people that God doesn’t like.  We’ve become a people who think we should have things by what we “deserve”…..which is not based on what we have worked for, or saved for, or have the money for…..but some other nebulous characteristic that evidently has to do with our own “fabulous-ness. ”   The idea that “I am most special.”  It’s all about us.  But the reality is that the most special and the most fabulous…they don’t necessarily get the most stuff.  One thing has nothing to do with the other.   In fact, the opposite is often the case.  Things don’t matter…..but a heart that acknowledges what is good and right and just and pure, God’s heart, is.  That is where we should find our value.  Oh….and if you don’t have the money and/or are in debt but are still using money as a currency for giving (buying gifts for others, supporting charities, etc.), you are operating from pride and not from truth.  A true gift is given from what you have or what you are.  Not something that is effectively stolen from someone else (your debtors.)

I have learned that money problems can seldom be solved by giving people money.  I’ve also learned to do your research before you make a deal.  My friend’s family had refused to lend her the money.  Friends closer than me had refused.  If I had talked to them, I would have probably seen it wasn’t because none had money themselves or because they all lacked generosity.  They knew her character.  She had done this before.  She had money issues.  She never could have enough.  She was selfish.  She was prideful.  The kind of woman God doesn’t like much because she has the kind of heart that is difficult to penetrate…she scorns both God and other people.  She lives the kind of life that disheartens those around her.  I know she disheartened me…..and took away an innocence that I wish I still had.  I always want to believe that people are good…..but the truth is, that by nature we are sinners.  It takes self-discipline to control that sin.  We shouldn’t be surprised when the lack of it spirals a person out of control…..and we should be weary when it does.  Enabling the behavior is not kind, and not a sign of your strength.  It is, in fact, the opposite.  So take action, lead yourself in the other direction…..and don’t be pulled down.  Don’t be the hunted animal.  A hunted animal’s life is not that great!  And sometimes they are killed.

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