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How to know what the Bible says about debt
Paying off debt can be a difficult task for many people. It is easy to get stuck in a borrowing cycle and accumulate more debt, with no end in sight.
If you are a Christian, you may carry some guilt or even shame around your debt. Perhaps you’ve been taught that having debt is a sin, or that it’s considered an act of disobedience towards God.
The best way to learn what the Bible says about debt is to read the scriptures. There are many people who like to express their opinions and ideas about this subject, but haven’t actually aligned their views with what God instructs in His Word.
Did you know that God never meant for you to struggle with the weight of debt? That’s why He’s given us principles for handling money and living a debt-free life.
Yes, there are verses about money in the Bible that can help you find your way out of debt and live in financial freedom! So you might be wondering, what does the Bible say about debt?
In this post, I will reference over 50 passages throughout the bible that can help you can take the necessary steps to achieve a debt-free life. These verses about debt and money management can give you guidance and encouragement as you prayerfully consider how God wants you to handle your finances.
For your convenience, here is an index of every verse referenced in this post – there are over 50 passages! Simply click on the reference to jump to that verse.
Just know that getting out of debt will take more than hoping and praying for God to help you.
You can rely on God to do His part, but you must also be willing to take action.
What types of debt does the Bible address?
The Bible talks about financial, material, and spiritual debt. For all types, debt is considered something that is borrowed and expected to be paid back.
Financial debt is any amount of money borrowed from a lender. This could be a family member, friend, bank, or other financial institution. Sometimes paying back this financial obligation will include interest, but not always.
Because the Bible was written over 2,000 years ago, you won’t find monetary terms that are common today – like credit cards, mortgage, and student loan. However, the principles that the Bible teaches apply to all forms of financial debt.
Material debt typically refers to a physical item that is borrowed for a period of time. Sometimes the original item is returned, but it can also be replaced. Either option is considered repayment of the debt.
Lastly, spiritual debt is something that *all* people owe, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Because our sin is a failure to honor and obey Him, we are indebted to Him every time we transgress His will for our lives.
Thankfully, Jesus paid our debt on the cross so we can be forgiven and have restored relationship with God (Colossians 2:13-14)
In this post, we will focus on how to biblically handle financial debt. But, I will also provide verses that address material and spiritual debt as well, because they align with God’s view of financial debt.
What does the Bible say about money and debt?
The Bible has a lot to say about how we should conduct our financial lives. There are several verses you can turn to for instruction about how to handle money and debt.
For example, scripture tells us that we should utilize every resource at hand in order for it to be used as an expression of thankfulness unto God. (Psalm 50:14)
We should not, however, serve two masters. (Matthew 16:24). Debt conflicts with God’s desire for us to put Him first. He is our one true master and He has entrusted to us resources that we are responsible to handle wisely.
With this understanding, it becomes clear that anything more than what comes from Him is like storing up trouble for ourselves. (Luke 12:16-21)
When you apply God’s Word to your finances, you can trust Him to provide for all your needs. Following His guidance will help you manage your money wisely and get out of all forms of debt.
Here are 4 things the Bible teaches us about debt and why God warns against it.
1. If you’re in debt, God wants you to pay it off
“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” (Psalm 37:21 NIV)
I know it can be tempting to avoid your debt problems by skipping payments or declaring bankruptcy. However, these decisions don’t make the problem go away and they don’t honor God.
Of course, God extends grace to us in times of desperation and forgiveness when we make mistakes. If you feel like a financial failure in life, it’s important to understand the difference between conviction and condemnation.
But, I believe God’s greatest favor and blessing are experienced when we are obedient to His Word and will for our financial lives. And, unless we make every attempt to repay those we are indebted to, we are walking outside of His favor.
2. You cannot serve two masters
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)
You may think it’s ridiculous that you would serve money as a master. But, if you’re drowning in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and under financial stress, your money issues likely consume your thoughts.
When there is anything in your life that you give more attention to than God, it becomes an idol.
God’s will for us is to manage our money in a healthy and godly way, so we don’t feel overwhelmed with worry and anxiety. This means living within our means, giving our tithe, and living debt-free.
3. If you’re in debt, you’re a slave
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7 NIV)
God’s Word tells us that when you owe somebody money, you are a slave to that person. Until you are completely out of all forms of debt, you won’t experience the financial freedom He wants you to have.
This is why it is so important to do whatever it takes to pay off any debt obligation. Like Dave Ramsey says, “with gazelle intensity“.
I’ll give you some helpful steps later to achieve a debt-free life, so keep reading!
4. God has so much more for you
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 NIV)
God never meant for you to be a slave to debt. His will for your life is to receive His free gift of eternal life and be free to walk in the purpose He has for you. That’s difficult to do when you’re bound to credit card companies by debt payments.
If you’re overwhelmed by debt, just know that He has a special plan for your life that allows you the freedom to fulfill His purposes. Don’t lose heart!
Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. He will show you the way out and bless you if you continue to honor Him with your finances.
What does the Bible NOT say about debt?
Almost as important as knowing what the Bible says about debt, you should also be aware of what scriptures do *not* say about borrowing money.
- The Bible does not say it’s a sin to go into debt. Sometimes it is necessary to borrow money in times of financial emergency. Be encouraged that you are not outside of God’s will or engaging in sinful behavior. Scriptures warn us about the dangers of debt for our own good, but also instruct us in how to pay off our debts in a responsible manner.
- The Bible does not advocate for any type of debt, including “good” debt that can increase your net worth. One example is a mortgage, which is necessary for most people to own their own home. Don’t be deceived that God wants you to take on this debt so you can be a homeowner. He still wants you to pay it off quickly and responsibly.
- The Bible doesn’t say God will release your debts. It is our responsibility to pay off our own debts in a timely manner. This might mean getting a 2nd job or cutting expenses. He never promises He will relieve you of the burden of your financial debt. However, He is totally capable of doing so, if He chooses.
What does the Bible say about bankruptcy and debt relief?
Although you won’t find the word ‘bankruptcy’ in the Bible, God does address the issue of debt relief throughout scripture. However, the passage many refer to regarding debt forgiveness is Deuteronomy 15:1-2.
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the regulation for the release of debts: every creditor is to forgive what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not require it of his neighbor and his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed
With this verse, God allows for debt forgiveness every 7 years. Similarly, U.S. bankruptcy laws allow the discharge of debts to individuals every eight years.
So, while God does provide an opportunity to pursue debt relief, it is only after 7 years of following His instruction to pay back all debtors if possible.
This is a beautiful parallel of how God wipes our spiritual debt clean whenever we ask for forgiveness. Still, after we are forgiven we must repent in order to ensure we don’t fall into the same trap again.
Biblical principles for getting out of debt
When it comes to getting out of debt, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. God gives us principles to follow in His Word that will release His favor and blessing on our finances.
Remember – God wants you to be debt-free. That is His will for you. And, when you pray in His will, it is His pleasure to answer your requests (John 15:7).
If you’re struggling with condemnation over your financial mistakes, recognize this as an attack from the enemy. The Holy Spirit comes to convict, not condemn. And, conviction leads to repentance, not shame.
Ask God to help you overcome the attacks of the enemy so you can move forward in His grace, to accomplish the tasks He’s set before you.
When you follow these biblical principles, you can receive God’s guidance to pay off your debt and manage your finances in a way that honors Him.
Spend daily time in prayer
“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” Psalm 107:19
Did you know that God is just waiting for you to ask Him for help? He knows that when you cry out to him in distress, bringing your burdens to Him, then you are in the perfect place to allow His power to move.
So, invite God to do what He already wants to do. Tell Him about your worries and concerns, no matter how trivial or small. Ask for what you need, for Him to move on your behalf, and for His favor to rest on your efforts to achieve financial freedom.
If you are a follower of Jesus, He has given you the power to overcome every work of the enemy (Luke 10:19), who wants to keep you in bondage. Speak that authority over your finances and claim, in faith, the deliverance God has for you.
“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24
Once you’ve prayed about your financial situation, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to pay off your debt.
As the author Mark Batterson often says, “Work like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God.”
So, take action. Create a plan. Then work the plan.
And, as you carry out your plan, God will guide your steps (Proverbs 16:9). He will give you the wisdom and clarity you need to deal with credit card companies and debt collectors.
I’ll give some helpful tips later in this post for how to take practical action to pay down your debt.
Take your debt seriously
“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” Psalm 37:21
When you borrow from credit card companies or any other debtor, God wants you to pay your debt back as soon as you can. He does not want you to be a slave to any lender.
This means your financial debt payoff must be a priority. You should make the necessary sacrifices to pay back what you owe. Only paying the minimum payment every month as you continue to increase credit card debt is defeating your efforts.
Live within your means
“God knows how to give you more than enough of what you need for today, and still meet your needs tomorrow.” Proverbs 30:25
People often go into debt because they want a lifestyle that their income can’t support. They make financial decisions based on emotion or buy more than they need to keep up with the neighbors.
If you struggle to live within your means, create a budget that only relies on the monthly income you make. And, ask God to help you be content with what He’s already blessed you with.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1
A heart of gratitude and contentment will help you achieve a debt-free life. You stop focusing on what you don’t have, and appreciate more what you do have.
God gives us much to be thankful for – most of all for paying our spiritual debt through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23) and gifting us with eternal life.
One way to foster a grateful heart is by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down something you’re thankful for every day. Be sure to thank God for the prayers He’s already answered, even if you haven’t yet experienced them. Claim, in faith, His promises over your finances.
5 Steps to achieve debt freedom
God wants you to trust Him with your finances, but He also wants you to do your part in managing your money well.
Here are 5 practical steps you can take to pay off your debt and live a debt-free life.
Step #1 Make a commitment to be debt-free
As you take steps to pay off your debt, you will inevitably encounter some roadblocks along the way. You might get laid off or have to take on some medical debt. Surprise expenses will slow down your progress and you may get discouraged.
This is why it’s important that you make a commitment to be debt-free no matter what obstacles you come up against.
Don’t trick yourself into believing that your finances are beyond your control. No matter how much debt you’re in, God has already given you the power and authority to overcome and have victory!
Make a decision and take a stand for your financial future. Commit to doing whatever it takes to pay off your debt, and stay out of debt. Ask trusted family and friends to hold you accountable, and teach your children about debt.
You could even write out your commitment and sign it. Then you could pray over it daily and ask God for the wisdom and endurance you need to see it through.
Step #2 Have a written plan
If you want to get out of debt, you need to have a plan to follow. Take the time to write down every debt balance you have and creating a budget.
Writing out all of your debts will ensure every balance is accounted for and give you an accurate picture of what you owe. These could include:
- credit cards
- student loan
- personal loan
- medical bills
- auto loans
You can use this information to prioritize your debts and estimate a timeline for paying everything off.
If you have fallen behind on payments, work with the credit card companies and other lenders to let them know what your plan is to bring your accounts current. Think of a way to create another income stream so you can achieve this goal faster.
Then you want to create a budget that supports your debt payoff plan. Find expenses that can be reduced or eliminated and apply the money you save to your debt. The more you can cut out of your budget, the faster you’ll achieve a debt-free life.
And, as you pay off your debts, you’ll find that your credit score will improve. Bonus!
Step #3 Stick to cash only
One way you can avoid money lending is by paying with cash only. Don’t carry credit cards with you so they’re not even an option.
If you don’t have enough cash, then you don’t make the purchase. This will help you to live within your means and stick to your budget so you can get out of debt faster.
Step #4 Build an emergency fund
You might think that it’s best to apply every spare dollar to your debt, but this will leave you without any savings. It’s important to have an emergency fund for those surprise expenses that must be paid for immediately. Otherwise, you might find yourself deeper in debt.
Get in the habit of saving money, even if it’s just $5 a week. This discipline will give you a financial cushion so you’re not building up credit card debt to pay for emergencies.
Step #5 Be faithful in giving
It might not seem logical to give money away when you’re trying to pay off debt. But God knows how easy it is for us to put our trust in money instead of trusting in Him to provide. That’s why it’s actually beneficial to keep tithing even as you pay off your debt.
When you’re faithful in giving, you’re exercising the biblical principle of sowing and reaping. The Bible tells us that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
This is a promise you can claim over your finances, as you sow your tithe and trust Him to provide what you need to get out of debt.
More biblical scriptures on debt, money, and giving
Looking for more spiritual guidance and inspiration? The Bible has many verses about debt and how to handle your finances. You’ll find scriptures that address debt, wealth, poverty, and giving.
I’ve listed 38 verses below about borrowing, lending, managing, and giving money.
I encourage you to not just read them, but meditate on them and commit them to memory. Pray them over your finances, and let God’s Word help you manage your finances in a way that honors Him.
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
2 Corinthians 9:10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.
Deuteronomy 28:12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Luke 14:28 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
Deuteronomy 15:4-5 However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.
Phillippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Matthew 6:31-33 So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Phillippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Matthew 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Mark 11:23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,” and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.
Colossians 2:14 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (ESV)
Proverbs 22:26-27 – Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. (NIV)
Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (NIV)
Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)
Exodus 22:25 – If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a money lender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. (ESV)
Deuteronomy 15:9 – Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. (ESV)
Luke 6:35 – But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (ESV)
Luke 16:11 – If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? (ESV)
1 Timothy 6:17-19 – As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (ESV)
Luke 16:9 – I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. (NIV)
Leviticus 25:35-37 – If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. (ESV)
Leviticus 25:39 – If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave. (ESV)
Mark 4:19 – But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful .(ESV)
James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)
Ephesians 1:17-21 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (NIV)
Matthew 6:25 – “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Luke 12:15 – And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (NIV)
Luke 7:41-50 – “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (ESV)
Proverbs 6:8 – She prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. (ESV)
Proverbs 12:11 – Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (NIV)
Exodus 23:5-7 – If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall not leave it helpless for its owner; you must arrange the load with him. “You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. (NASB)
Exodus 22:26-27 – If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? (ESV)
Matthew 5:42 – Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (ESV)
As you can see, the Bible makes it clear that God is not an advocate for debt.
Being in debt can feel like a heavy burden you’ll never be free of. It may seem impossible, but “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
God is on your side and He is faithful to lead you out of your debt and have victory in financial freedom. Turn to His Word for wisdom and direction and claim His promises over your finances.
It will take time and require sacrifice, but God will honor your efforts!
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