“My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.”
Proverbs 6:1-3 (ESV)
Have you ever made a financial pledge before you had thought the decision through, and then realized that you might not be able to fulfill it? This might be cosigning for a friend to buy a car, or pledging a large amount of money to a cause that you later realize you cannot pay. Sometimes we can get caught up in the moment of wanting to help a friend or stranger who needs money or a large item like a house or car. Cosigning a financial document is a serious matter, and if you can’t afford to pay your friend’s debt for them, you should not promise to do so.
Financial wisdom is important and money-related decisions should be considered carefully. Proverbs 6:1-3 describes Solomon’s plea to his son to not enter a surety agreement, and if his son had already entered that type of agreement that he should humble himself and ask to be removed from it. Solomon was advising his son to not put himself at the mercy of another person because, if that person ends up not being able to pay off their debt, Solomon’s son would be responsible and might not have the money to cover it along with his own family’s expenses. This would result in the family’s financial ruin.
The stress related to financial folly can be overwhelming, and that stress can result in poor health, divorce, depression, and even legal action that could lead to jail time. The lesson we learn from this passage is that financial decisions should always be made after a time of prayer, and not in the heat of the moment. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give your money to anyone ever again, but that you should prayerfully consider all financial decisions. Proverbs 3:27 commands, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” This verse exhorts us to help others, but notice that the second half of the verse explains that we should only help them in those ways that we are able.
Heed Solomon’s wise counsel in Proverbs 3:9 to avoid financial folly. Before you make any significant pledge, consider whether you have the funds to fulfill that pledge and still support yourself. Remember to honor the Lord with the “firstfruits of all your crops.”