Murky Money Matters

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor or entered into an agreement with a stranger, you have been trapped by the words of your lips—ensnared by the words of your mouth.

Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, for you have put yourself in your neighbor’s power: Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor.

Don’t give sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids. Escape like a gazelle from a hunter, like a bird from a fowler’s trap.

–Proverbs 6:1-5

Money is very important. It enables us to live comfortably, acquire provisions, pay debts, and interact with others commercially and economically.

Yet it also causes much trouble. Spouses have divorced, friends have become enemies, long-term relationships have been shattered, and people have even been killed because of money. Not to mention the many who have been ruined by love of money and lack of wisdom in spending it.

When dealing with money, we wield a double-edged sword.

black-moneySolomon’s advice to his “son” is not to enter into financial deals with a neighbor, not to be surety for a debt or a cosigner for a loan, because if his neighbor fails to keep up his end of the deal, the “son” will be trapped as well. The son had good intentions when he entered into the agreement. He wanted to help his neighbor. But, Solomon advises him to beg, to “plead” with his neighbor to release him from their agreement before it is too late. He tells him to flee, to escape — like a beast flees a hunter or desperately attempts to escape a trap.

The larger point here is that good intentions and innocuous ideas can end in devastating outcomes. Just as we should avoid bad financial deals, we should avoid anything that can ensnare us and make it difficult to escape.