Proverbs 6:1-5

1My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
3 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.
4 Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

This counsel is not forbidding generosity, but rather risk-taking. A friend or family member approaches you to co-sign for a large loan. He appeals to your relationship; he promises that he can be trusted even though the venture is risky and he has not proven himself to carry through on his commitments. Indeed, that is why the co-signing is necessary. He has not shown the discipline necessary to build his own credit.

Understand that you are not doing him good to co-sign. You are enabling him to get into yet another bind, only this time you will have to make good for his promises. Where before you pitied him, now you despise him for getting you into financial trouble.

Do not act against a hesitant instinct. You may be worried that you are not trusting enough or caring enough. It is worthwhile to pray about the matter and seek counsel, but be sure to take these steps before committing yourself especially if others depend on you. A married person with children does not have the freedom to make financially risky commitments; and as stewards of God’s money we all have an obligation to use money wisely.

Whatever you do loan, do so as though you are giving money generously with no expectation of return. But give to what is helpful, not what enables dependency. Should you be more willing to give to family? Yes, but still with an eye on what is for the other person’s good and not to get him off your back.

The generous giver is still to be a wise giver.

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