He who pampers his slave from childhood will in the end find him to be a son. Proverbs 29:21
What is the proper way to treat a employee? As we have done for most of the proverbs dealing with slavery - we look at them through the prism of employee and employer relationships. There is much wisdom for people who are in business and who have employees if they will learn from these proverbs. What can we learn from today's proverb in this respect?
The warning here is that an employer should not "pamper" their employees - just as the man in this proverb is told not to pamper his servants. The word "pamper" here means what is means today - to treat someone in a way where they are not disciplined and made to work as they should. There should be expectations on those who work for an employer. When I worked at UPS we were expected to load a certain number of packages per hour. When our work output went below that number - we were going to have a visit from a supervisor or boss - who would make it plain to us that we needed to work harder. This was not employer abuse - it was an employer making sure that we knew that we were expected to produce a certain amount of work for the hourly pay that we received.
What is dangerous is when an employee or servant is allowed to be lazy and undisciplined at work without any kind of repercussions. This is pampering a worker. Allowing a worker to do shoddy work without rebuke is pampering them. Allowing a worker to be consistently late to work without rebuke is pampering the worker. Allowing a worker to abuse their fellow workers and supervisors without rebuke and punishment is pampering the worker. These things will hurt a business - or even cause it to fail. There needs to be an understanding of proper workplace behavior and proper workplace expectations. But our society is beginning to implode on itself because it rejects such things. People are getting to the point where they expect a paycheck - but do not think that they should work hard for it. Ours is a world where people feel they are entitled to a living - and a good one at that.
The Bible is clear on the fact that, "if a man won't work - don't let him eat." There are also verses that say to let someone get hungry - and they will be willing to work. The business world is rough - and if we are going to have a strong economy people need to know that HARD work is required. We act today as if the words "hard work" are curse words - when in fact that are blessed words. It is good for us to have to work hard.
When an employer does not have the proper expectations on his laborers, he will in the end wind up with sons rather than employees. What is meant by this is a certain kind of son - a spoiled one. He will wind up with people who do not want to work - but expect to be well paid and well cared for by their employer. One might call this the "spoiled brat" syndrome. You treat laborers a cerain way and before long they will not be workers - but rather spoiled brats who constantly complain about their wages, about their work load, about their work environment - and just about anything else they can think of to complain about. No matter what the employer does, it is not enough.
A good employer knows the balance between caring for his employees and calling them to work. He knows that he does need to be considerate and wise with things like workplace conditions and wages. He wants to bless his labor force - but he also wants them to work. There are Scripture passages that call the employer to be gracious and kind to his workers - but here he is warned of the dangers of having a plant filled with spoiled brats - rather than people who know how to work hard so that the business will be profitable. It is a delicate balance - but one that needs a serious swing toward a stronger work ethic in our day.
The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both. Proverbs 29:13
At first this proverb may sound like a simple statement - something everyone would know. It might also seem as if it is not addressing the real issue to anyone who is living underneath an oppressor. To them that issue would be telling the oppressor to stop oppressing them! But this proverb does exactly what is necessary to address the oppressor. It may not do like we would want - and it may not give us the instant relief we'd like from all oppressors - but God addresses them sufficiently.
What we have here in this proverb is a veiled threat. It is not an empty one - it is just spoken in a way that is not . . . not very "schwartneggaresque." We would like for God to make an "in your face" threat to the oppressor. Tell him stop or I'll smack you upside the head! Tell him that if he keeps oppressing - God will show him what real oppressing looks like! That's what we want. Yet God's statement here is subtle - yet strong.
The Lord addresses the fact that the oppressor and the poor man he oppresses have something in common. He tells the oppressor that the Lord gives light to both of them. That phrase refers not to physical sight - but to giving life itself. To say that God gives light to our eyes means that we are alive because of Him. Now, let's look at how this is a veiled, yet very effective threat. God is telling the oppressor that although he thinks he is a moral free agent - and can do what he wants - that is not true. The reason he is alive - is the same reason the poor man whom he oppresses is alive too. God gave them both life. So how is this a threat?
The oppressor thinks "he" determines who lives and who dies. He is a bully - just on a much larger level. He does not think he will be held accountable - even as he holds the poor man accountable to his oppressive demands. But now God is saying to the oppressor - you are exactly like the poor man you are abusing. I gave light to both of your eyes. Now for the threat. It is implied. God is saying to the oppressor - I gave light to your eyes - and I can take it away. You, my dear oppressor, are NO DIFFERENT than the one whom you oppress. You can't give anyone life - so your power is severely limited. Then God says, "I, on the other hand, give life to anyone who is alive. My power is utterly unlimited. You would do well to remember that."
Sometimes it is the subtle things that can knock us to the ground. Real power does not need to bluster to be recognized. God has His moments of truly "throwing down" and proving He is God beyond any shadow of a doubt. Burning Sodom and Gomorrah off the face of the earth is one of them. Splitting the Red Sea and crushing the greatest army on earth in the midst of it was another. Opening the earth and swallowing Dathan and Abiram could be considered another. Even throwing huge rocks from heaven and destroying those who fought with Joshua might be a fourth. But there are also times when the quietness and subtlety of God are as loud as the thunder of Niagra's mighty falls. It is in those moments that authority is expressing itself in mercy. For the oppressor this is good - for it gives him a chance to repent of his oppressive ways and to turn and embrace the mercy given to him. It warns him to repent and begin showing mercy to thosw who have previously received none from his hand. A wise man would respond immediately because there will be a day when the subtlety of God will end. In that day - he will want to realize how weak he is - and take refuge in God's mercies. The other option is wholly unwise to embrace.
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26
One of the phrases I hear all the time is that I need to trust my heart in order to make a right decision. I know that this is popular - and that it makes for a good wall plaque (you know, Laugh, Love, Trust Your Heart), but it is unwise counsel for us to follow from a Biblical worldview. This is because one of the pillars of a Biblical worldview is the fall of man and the subsequent damage that has done to our ability to reason wisely. Our hearts are not trustworthy - and any decision based on what is in them is going to be an unwise one most likely.
Before we move on I want to review the state of the human heart for us. Since we live in a worldview that says that we are basically good, it is wise for us to do such a review. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, "The heart is deceitful above all esle, and is desperately wicked, who can understand it? After the fall of man in the garden the world was plunged into sin. By Genesis 6:5 we read the following summation of the human race. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." David helps us understand our hearts when he writes in Psalm 51:5, "Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Our condition - and the state of our hearts - is that of being sinful and rebellious toward God. Just one last Scripture to bring this truth home. Romans 3:10-12 has a very damning endictment toward the human race. We read the following there. ". . . as it is written, There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understand, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." It doesn't get any worse than this for us - and this is simply a biblical conclusion to what Paul had been teaching for three chapters in Romans. So, to trust our hearts - without conversion - without the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us - without Scripture - is very foolish.
The one who does this is called a fool. He is a fool because he walks and thinks with utter self-dependence. He lives apart from input, counsel or wisdom from others - and most importantly independent from God and His Word. As always, the fool here only wants to air what is in his own heart and in his own mind, thinking, and reasoning. He will consistently make decisions that are silly, stupid, and foolish. These kinds of decisions will actually cause great harm if they are followed fully.
Solomon warns us that it is the one who walks wisely that will be delivered from the harm that comes from foolish thinking. If you are wondering what we would need to be delivered from - here are a few examples.
- Samson trusted in his own heart - and rejected God's counsel on moral purity and sexual sin. In time his foolishness is truly astounding. Each night after a sexual romp with Delilah, she would probe him for information on where his strength was - and each night he would lie to her. He would not get that whatever he told her would happen to him - and he would be awakened by her to find men ready to harm him. Did that deter Samson and bring him to repentance? No - he continued to trust his heart and his romantic (more like lust-starved) feelings. In the end - he was NOT delivered - and it cost him his eyes and a radically different hairdo - which, by the way, cost him his strength.
- Saul trusted in his own heart - and therefore let his jealousy run rampant. He distrusted David, thinking that he wanted to overthrow him and take his kingdom. That jealousy so warped his mind that he killed 70 priests and put to death an entire village because he believed a lie. In the end, he was not delivered. He trusted his own heart - which eventually led him to inquire of a witch what to do in battle. That was the last straw for God - who allowed Saul to die in battle the next day.
- David trusted in his own heart - which was led astray by his loins when he saw Bathsheba naked as she bathed on a rooftop. His own heart decided to hatch several lame plans to cover his tracks when his adultery led to her pregnancy. The ultimate foolishness was having ordered Joab to act foolishly in battle so that Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, would be killed in battle. David was not delivered from the destruction his adultery would bring to his family. Two sons were killed, a daughter and 10 concubines were raped, and a two costly rebellions killed thousands as a result.
- Peter trusted his own heart - that he truly did love Jesus more than all the other disciples. That kind of foolish arrogance led him to follow Jesus - but only at a distance. Jesus warned him that denials - three to be exact - would come from him before others. But Peter knew better than the Christ - he trusted his own heart and strength to stand. He was not delivered as he heard a cock crow after his third denial. He was restored later by God's grace - but he never forgot what trusting his own heart cost him.
Hopefully these four examples will help seal the deal for us in believing this Proverb. I know that I have far more than four exmaples of what trusting in my own heart has cost me. It is a foolish thing to do and one that always ends with a disaster. Walking wisely means walking in dependence on The Lord. Walking wisely means first coming to salvation by God's grace. Then it means walking in continued daily fellowship with God as we read His Word and desire the work of His Spirit within us. May God bless you and help you to walk wisely - and never do something so foolish as trust your own heart.
Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool. Proverbs 26:1
Israel was an agricultural nation - therefore when God communicated wisdom to them He often used pictures they knew in their agrarian society. That is what the Lord is doing in Proverbs 26:1. He is speaking of things that any farmer would immediately know is not fitting - or is very wrong. But what is even more wrong than that is the idea of giving honor to a fool.
There is an order to nature. God gave nature an order with the seasons that come to us each and every year. We move from spring to summer, then to fall to winter every year. When these things are out of place they are not just an anomaly, they are harmful. Snow in summer is not just a strange thing, it is a dangerous thing. Crops could be destroyed by a summer snow. Some plants won't grow or have their growth greatly stunted by events like this. Rain in the harvest is devastating. The harvest is typically a dry time where as plants mature and bear their fruit - then then dry and are prepared for harvesting. Rain makes this nearly impossible. Continued rain can even destroy crops by having them rot in the fields. Any man or woman of Israel would know this - and would say that "no fitting" is not strong enough to convey the problems such situations would bring.
What God is trying to indicate is that just as there is a physical order to creation - there is also a moral order to mankind. This moral order is once again His doing. To follow Him is wisdom - to ignore and even spurn Him is foolishness. Thus to give honor to a fool is not only turning over this moral order - it can be very harmful. A fool will deny the things of God. We read that the fool says in his heart there is no God. His works are ungodly and harmful to himself and all those around him. Thus when a fool is honored, he not only holds his foolish views himself - he infects others with them as well.
Our country currently is honoring fools in abundance. A series of atheist authors have been honored by having their works reach the best seller list. Hundreds of thousands have read the works of these fools who declare God is not great. An entire generation of young people have found atheism to be cool. The shocking statements of these men catch their fancy and thus they have read them - and subsequently followed them as well. Yet rather than see a renaisance of thought and blessing come to our land, just the opposite has happened. The glaring lack of character along with the nuclear attacks on any kind of moral code have brought great destruction to our land. The several crises that have arisen in recent months have not come from Christianity and moral turpitude run amok. To the contrary, they have come from people ignoring morals and workplace ethics. The supposed smartest among us from the Ivy League schools are at the very center of such ignoble actions.
What we learn from this is exactly what God is trying to tell us here. It is out of place to honor fools. It is unwise to exalt them and give them a greater platform from which to speak. To do so will be very harmful to ANY society. So, as it snows in summer - and rains in the midst of our harvest - may we recognize the fools among us. Even more important though is recognizing and realizing that their exaltation and honor has and will continue to bring great harm to the moral order God has established. Good things will not come of these unwise choices - and we will know this - if we listen to natures warnings, as well as God's.
Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. Proverbs 26:17
In order to learn this proverb in the way we will never forget, we should find a large, doberman - whom we do not know - and grab him by the ears and shake him a little. Yeah - don't think you'd want to do that either. Want to know why? Because you'd come out of that situation with one less hand (possibly two if you are slower).
I love when God uses pictures that are not only graphic - but pretty funny to consider. This sounds like a bad clip from "America's Funniest Videos." Nevertheless, it is great for those of us who have a bad tendency to get involved in "strife-filled" situations when we have no reason for doing so. There are just some of us who think it is our place to fix every situation where people are having problems.
Note several things about this person. First, he is simply "passing by" a situation that is ongoing. He has not been invited to enter it and offer counsel. He just feels that these two people who are fighting need his particular expertise and wisdom. Second, this is a situation "not belonging to him." That removes him even further from the picture - or at least it should. Third, he enjoys "meddling" in other people's business. Add all these things up and you get a recipe for "relational disaster stew!"
This is one of those proverbs that needs to be featured in the University of Duh. Anyone with a remote "lick of sense" knows better than to grab a dog by its ears. Do so and you will anger the dog - who will then bite your hand. Do it to the wrong dog and more than just your hand will be attacked. So also is the foolishness of someone who just will not stay out of other people's business. This particular fool won't stay out of other people's ANGRY business. The word "riybah" is used here - and it means strife, controversy, or contention. It speaks of a quarrel or dispute - which often involves open hostilities. Why would anyone want to step into something like that - when they don't even know the people all that well? To do so is stupid! But it seems that "stupid" here just cann't help himself or herself. They insert themselves into the conflict - and later are shocked when they walk away battered and bruised by the words or actions that they run into in the midst of it.
Stay out of other people's business! That is something my mother taught me. It has been a very wise saying - and one that I did not know at the time was biblical. Whenever I have obeyed her counsel I was blessed. But I've ignored it a few times . . . and I have the emotional dog bites to show for it!
Do not be among those who give pledges, Among those who become guarantors for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take your bed from under you? Proverbs 22:26-27
Here is a proverb dealing with debt. And the debt spoken of here is actually not your own debt - but signing to assume the debt of others. Here it is called giving a pledge or becoming a guarantor for another debt. This is something the Scriptures are against in every situation. We are told numerous times to not become a guarantor for another person's debt. The reason for this is simple - when we do we put everything we have at risk.
The way that this is brought home to us by Solomon is to state what happens when the debt is no longer paid by the one we vouched for when we signed on as a guarantor. If they do not pay the debt - or make the payment - guess where they are coming to "legally" get their money? You got it - they are coming for you. And they have a legal right to whatever they have to take in order to pay that debt. In extreme situations this could even involve losing your home.
Why should he take your bed from under you? That is the question that is asked here - and it is the fact of your guarantor-ship. No matter what it costs, the people who hold the loan that you guaranteed will be able to take it from you. What is presented here is a worst case scenario. Here the banker comes and takes even the bed you are lying on from under you. In our society, where finance has been perverted by socialism and a government that attempts to have a system where no one fails, we think this is heartless and wrong. But the fact is that the person who co-signed for the loan did so under no durress and under no threat of force. They did a very stupid thing in guaranteeing another person's debts. Therefore when that person does not follow through - legally and completely in the moral right - the person who holds the loan has every right to recover their money. This is the case whether they get it from the person who took out the loan - or the unwise one who co-signed it.
Whether we realize it or not - we are being co-opted into co-signing for the foolishness of our government in this current age of socialistic decision making. Every time our government decides to go further into a debt that they cannot pay - giving away money that they do not have - we the people are on the hook for what they are doing. As I said, they are co-opting us into defacto guarantor status for the public debt. They do so through the tax structure that will be imposed to pay for the piper one day. They also do so through the way the Fed is allowed to print money with nothing other than the future collective worth of our nation to back it.
I need to say something that will sound like prophecy - and yet it really is not. There is coming a day, soon, where we will have to pay for the foolishness of our legislators (and this sin is rampant in both parties). When that day comes we will suddenly realize that by being co-opted into being a guarantor for the public debt - we are going to have the very bed we sleep on taken out from under us. This is not so much a prophecy as it is a principle of Scripture. We've ingored this princple for too long not to pay the price for it in the end. Sixteen trillion dollars for which we are guarantor is no longer something we can ignore. Unfortunately the day is fast approaching - we need to prepare for it and be ready for the day of our financial reckoning. God have mercy on our souls - and on our nation.
There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up. Proverbs 21:20
The wise man takes what God has given him and uses it wisely. He spends some and uses it for himself, his family, and his friends. He also saves some and puts it away for future use as well as for lean times. Today let's take a look at the acts of the wise man who saves for his future and the foolish man who simply swallows everything God grants to him.
We are told that precious treasure and oil are in the house of the wise man. Whether he received these things from the practices of industry and frugality - or whether he received them as an inheritance from godly, thoughtful parents - the wise man knows how to save. Precious treasure is an interesting word as it has two connotations. The first is from how the word is used to refer to things like gold, silver, and other commodities. He saves money, food, and other valuable things so that he will have access to them in the future. Why does he do this? Because a wise man knows that since the world in which we live is fallen and affected by sin - there will be times of shortage and leanness. Throughout all human history there have been both abundance and famine in our world. Joseph knew such things from God Himself when he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. He did not waste time in the purcuit of gluttony and over-indulgence. Joseph was a wise man and saved and stored much so that when the famine came he would be ready. His foresight and obedience to God saved all of Egypt, saved his own family, and made Egypt rich beyond their imaginations.
There is a second way this word "treasure" is used. The word can also mean "temple treasures." These spoke of treasures that were given so as to build up and maintain the worship of God in the temple. In the dwelling of the wise there is provision stored up not only for physical welfare - but for the spiritual welfare of the home as well. There is little more foolish among mankind than to think this world is all that there is. They live ignorant of God and ignorant of their responsiblity to Him. The wise man stores up for both the physical and the spiritual. There is in his house a physical inheritance - but also a spiritual one as well. He lives godly and rears his children to love and honor God. He makes sure that the Word dwells richly within their hearts - desiring for them to walk with God and know Him intimately.
Not only is there treasure within this house of the wise, there is also oil. When speaking of oil - this could speak of the olive oil that was used in almost every aspect of a Jewish family. They needed this for food preparation - for spiritual worship for annointing oil - and for medical reasons like softening wounds and helping them heal. There was also the idea of savings - because some oils were very expensive. Mary offered a container of very expensive oil as she annointed Jesus with it in preparation for His crucifixion and burial. This alabaster vial was worth a whole year's wages. When one of the prpohetic students of Elisha died, his widow was in debt and in danger of haring her chidlren sold into debt slavery. Elisha answered this by having her collect numerous vials which later were supernaturally filled with oil. This she sold, paid her debt, and even had plenty to kep her and her children alive and well. This kind of oil would signify that a family was preparint for their future - for the needs of their children and grandchildren. On a spiritual note - oil was a picture of the Holy Spirit - so one could even consider this the way that a family cherished the work of the Spirit in their lives and encouraged it in themselves and in their children.
The foolish ones don't save any of these things - either physical or spiritual. Theirs is a consumer mentality. They swallow up whatever they receive with no thought of the future. They live by their lusts and desires - and therefore do not even consider anyone except themselves. The end of such a life is that they are broke, both physically and spiritually. The saddest example of this is the prodigal son. He took a large inheritance and wasted it on the party life. In the end he was broke. His so-called friends abandoned him and left him to fend for himself. This was only after he abandoned any kind of spiritual preparation for the future by rejecting his father and his father's God. He was left with nothing - except the grace his faher would give him in the end.
If we are wise we will realize we live in a fallen world. This will necessitate preparation for our future - both physically and spiritually. We will face famines physically that will require that lay up wise stores for that day in order for us and for our families to survive. But there is also a need to prepare spiritually - for there will also be a day when we will face being ready for the judgment of God. Oh to be wise and understanding so that our preparations will have our homes and lives filled with treasures both temporal and eternal so that we will be well provided for when the day comes that we need them. May God, in His grace, work in and deliver us from a life lived for self and for the moment. May we be ready for anything - famine in life - and fatal spiritual thinking in eternity.
The king's favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully. Proverbs 14:35
Anyone who has ever worked knows the difference between receiving the favor of your boss versus receiving an angry rebuke or tirade. Today's proverb reminds us that when we serve others - especially a king or person in high authority - it is good to be prudent in how we perform our duties.
The king will show favor to a servant who acts wisely. The word for "wisely" here is the Hebrew word, "sakal" which has as its root meaning to act with prudence. One who acts wisely takes time to consider his actions. He ponders what the consequences are for a word that he speaks or an action that he takes. He wants to understand and have insight into what he does. Any leader loves having such a servant or employee. They are not quick to rush into things and as a result make fewer mistakes. They are good employees because they honestly think of the good of the company - and are prone to being selfless toward others.
The king or boss in a situation will react with angrer though toward someone who acts shamefully. The idea behind this word is to cause shame or disgrace. Leaders know that when someone is not thinking and not pondering their choices - they will inevitably walk into a lot of problems. These particular problems are enough to shame a boss - or disgrace a king. It should not shock us therefore to learn that the king or boss reacts with wrath against this one. They are not only falling down on the job - but they are failing in a way that is bringing shame and disgrace on the business.
The foolish man acts without taking time to think about what is about to do. He has even less knowledge of the potential consequences for what he is doing. He does not want any restraint upon himself. The wise man looks things over and is careful to make a decision consistent with what is best for his authorities. That is why the king shows him such favor.
He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him. Proverbs 11:27
What you seek will eventually be seeking you. That is the wisdom that Solomon is seeking to give to his children - and God is seeking to give to His. We have a fairly general statement made here about this - nevertheless it is still wise to hear it.
The words good and evil are the usual words that we see in Scripture. The word "good" means something beneficial, well-pleasing to God, fruitful, morally correct, proper or convenient. The word "evil" meaning something bad in a moral and ehtical sense. The final arbiter of whether something is in either category is God and His Word.
What brings a distinction to this is the use of the word "seeks." In this passage each time it is used - it is a different Hebrew word - and that helps us to see what is going on in this passage itself. The first time this word is used it is used to speak of diligently seeking good. The word here is "shachar" in the Hebrew and it means to inquire after something or someone. Here what the person is iquiring about is what is good. This is a passionate search to know and to walk in what is good. The second time the word is used it is the Hebrew word "baqas." This means to seek something so that you can obtain it. When these two words are put together they communicate something very important to us. The wise man is the one who diligently inquires of God what is good. He wants to understand what is morally right and good - what is beneficial to others and to himself. But he or she inquires (seeks) it because he or she wants to obtain favor from God. Thus the seeking (inquiring - questioning - study - longing for knowledge) is so that they can please God and obtain His favor. There is another aspect of this that simply means by inqiring what is good morally - they also will obtain favor with others as they watch their selflessness and willingness to give of themselves.
The last time the word "seeks" is used - it is used in the context of seeking evil. The Hebrew word here is "darash" which means to seek after something by frequently going after it. It has the idea of treading a path again and again. It speaks of someone who is seeking after something by going somewhere often. Thus the idea here is that the one who is seeking evil - is choosing to tread a path to it again and again in their lives. We are told that those who do such things, evil will come to them.
King Saul is an example for us of someone who did this. Although Saul started out well - he began to seek out evil by not obeying the Lord. He tried to obey God - his way. He did not carry out God's wrath against Amalek. He decided to keep what he thought was good and use it to serve God. He did not honor God's way of sacrificing to Him. When Samuel did not come in an allotted time - Saul did God's will his way. He made the sacrifice. This led to a pathway to evil for King Saul. As he walked this path again and again it became easier to disobey than obey. His walk with God deteriorated. He soon found it easier to follow his own flesh than respond to the Spirit's leading. In time evil came to him - and he followed it. His life is a reminder that we need to seek to know and do good - rather than frequent the path to evil. What we seek is what will eventually come to us. Seek evil and evil will be ready to lead you any time you need direction. Seek good - both to know what it is and then to own it by having a heart that seeks good - and favor from God and from others will be granted to you.
He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it, But he who hates being a guarantor is secure. Proverbs 11:15
There are at least six different times when Proverbs warns us against being either an guarantor or against surety. Here we are warned against being a guarantor for a stranger. The warning we are given by Solomon (and by the Lord) is that we will surely suffer harm for such an action.
When you guarantee another's debt - you are responsible for their action or their inaction. If they pay their debt on time, you will have no problem. If they do not - then you have to pay their debt. The reality though is that a person who has to ask for a guarantor is usually someone that a bank or a business considers a higher risk. We should learn from their concern that we too, should be concerned as well. This is why so many who become a guarantor regret it dearly. The high risk the bank is unwilling to take - becomes the risk of the guarantor. It is no shock to learn then that more often than not - the guarantor pays the money in the end.
But what do you say to someone who comes to you asking for surety - or for you to be their guarantor. First, you graciously decline citing your desire to be their friend longer than the terms on the loan you are being asked to sign. When you become a guarantor your relationship with that person changes. It changes either for the length of the loan or, in the case of thsoe who default on the loan, possibly forever. Your friend may not like hearing this at first - but they will appreciate that you view a friendship as more important than a loan. Second, you graciously decline citing Scripture. You explain that your refusal to become a guarantor is being done because you want to obey God. In this case their frustration will be with God more than you. Third, you can encourage them lovingly that desiring something they cannot afford is eventually going to be harmful to them. Those who take this path consistently pay a much higher price in the years to come. It is better to control our desires, and keep them within the means that God has given to us. We may not get whatever we want when we want it - but - honestly, has that ever worked out well for anyone?
The Scriptures counsel us to be those who "hate" being a guarantor. The reason God tells us this is not to make us stingey. He says it for our protection, for the protection of the friend or family member who asks, and for the protection of relationships we want to keep far into the future - so we can be of long-term encouragement and blessing to those we love.