Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

How to lend money

Posted by universalis on 20 January 2007

“The good man takes pity and lends”, says Psalm 111. So when a friend of mine asked me to lend him £50 because a cheque had arrived late, I knew what I had to do.

But how to do it? Lending money and borrowing money are good ways of losing friends. Here’s the solution that leapt into my mind at that moment. It worked then, and I’ve told other people about it, and it seems to work for them too.

The trouble with lending is that the money needs to be paid back. If he doesn’t pay, has he forgotten, or is he temporarily unable to pay, or is he cynically gambling that I won’t remember? If he has genuinely forgotten, and I tactfully don’t remind him, it will be awkward in a year’s time when neither of us can remember whether he’s paid me back or not. If he can’t pay, and I do remind him, I will cause trouble and embarrassment. And so it goes on…

I didn’t lend him the money. I told him: “Here is a gift of £50. I shall make up for that gift by giving £50 less to church collections over the next month or two. When you are ready to repay me, don’t pay me, but give £50 extra to a church collection”.

So I get paid back without any worries. My friend pays back to God whenever he is able to do so. I don’t need to worry about when he’ll do it or whether he’ll do it: that is between him and God and it’s none of my business.

My friend got his money and our friendship survived.

29 Responses to “How to lend money”

  1. Linda said

    I really like your idea for lending money, thanks! If it ever pertains to me in the future I will do the same 😉

  2. Chris said

    Indeed, a wonderful idea! I, too, will do the same in the future should I ever be in such a position. Thanks for the story and the suggestion.

  3. Carl said

    I don’t like it. Not only is it dodging directly what the Bible tells us about lending, you are possibly shorting God of your offering. I think I would be a lot more concerned about being reckless and a bad steward by allowing someone else to borrow my offering and than make up the shortage. If in the most dire circumstance there is no other options. I would still have a hard time with holding anything from Him who all belongs. I certainly would not make it my common practice. Pax

  4. Theresa said

    Dear friends,

    I found this issue interesting, since I was owed more than $2,300 for more than a year and a half under extreamly distressing circumstances for me and this was a sincere hardship on my part. The money owed me was from someone who most people would call “millionaires”.

    It was a very purging time for me, in my soul, since my sister is rich and I was not. She was unjust in failing to repay me for money spent for care of my parents when she clearly could have done so since she already had her personal wealth AND control of the sizable estate of my elderly parents, almost a million dollars at the time ( the money was for their care) It was even more upsetting to me when my sister would say very frequently, Gee, I really should pay you back the money I owe you, I’ll give it to you tomorrow, or I forgot the checkbook but tomorrow never came, but everytime I saw her or spoke to her she’d “remember” and then quickly forget.

    But this situation was a personal purgatory, shall I hold a grudge, shall I demand justice?! Shall I spread this unjust action all over to teach my sister a lesson? Shall I remain silent but harber anger? Will this obcession of what she owes me and how dare she do this to me and my parents ever go away?

    Well, all these things tormented my soul more than the money she owed. Even after several confessions,( Jesus help me to forgive her) I was not at peace. I was still angry and hurt my sister would do this, she had so much, I had so little and was killing myself with stress trying to help my parents out. It was our parents who deserved this care and it was THEIR money not hers.

    I did not find peace until I asked something else and did something else. I prayed FOR her, not to change but for blessings to be given to her and something I have never asked for before, “Jesus I need you to heal this deep hurt my sister has caused me and free me from the insistance that I be repaid the very last penny” She owed it, yes indeed, just as I owe Christ many debts I have not repaid in pennace and good deeds as reperation for my sins. I was acting like the servent released from prison by the kindness of the jailer, but who turned to somone else who owed him and demanded payment in full. This was my reminder that when I stand in the presence of Christ at my personal judgement and he says Theresa, remeber you owed me reperation for this sin and that offence and you failed to repay me… I will be thankful IF Christ says to me, “Since you did not demand repayment of others, neither will I require it of you.”

    Easy to say .. in theory but impossable to do without supernatural grace. Once I found that peace by accepting the concept that I will write off a debt, even if the person could have and should have reapid me. Peace returned. And guess what? Soon after, not asked, not expected, I received the check. Lesson learned.

  5. Stephen said

    I would really agree with the last entry and with Carl. My mother (ahh the wisdom of catholic mothers) always said ‘It will all come out in the wash.’ which meant in the end, it will all be even. Along with the servant parable, I also think of the giving quote “don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing…”. In the end, if that person never pays me back another will give me what I do not deserve. What we give always returns 10-fold, and if we give with strings, the strings become 10-fold.

    Certainly, there is a concern for the motives of the person (are you really helping them or merely enabling them?), and you might tune the gift accordingly, but you still must give freely and seflessly, never expecting to be paid back (when you make expectations of others I have found they will always let you down, after all those are your expectations not theirs…) but knowing that you have already recieved more than you ever pay out.

    Balancing your responsibilities with charity is really the problem as I see it. Prayer has always been the only road which has helped me when the hand is out. Give freely but give appropriately!

  6. Ann said

    ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.’ Any one of my eight siblings is as familiar with this Hamlet quotation as I am, thanks to the cautionary wisdom of a good mother. I think your strategy is a charitable way of tackling a delicate subject. A true friend might perhaps prove his worth by enquiring which charity you support, and do the needful when it would come to pay-back time…and a really good friend might even let a receipt fall from his pocket just so…

  7. Robert said

    I think Stephan hit the nail on the head in a practical way. Reading the prayer of the office today, the words that St Paul said so simply yet so profoundly were that he had no life, Christ had life through him. When I lend money, I know I am only giving what God gave me back to Him. It’s not my money.

    I don’t ever expect to be paid back, but I don’t tell others that fact to help them feel the dignity of paying back a debt. When they do repay me, it goes to the poor box since I was given the money by God and I gave it back to God by giving it the needy. Sometimes God answers prayers with a no when that is the right answer. Freely giving is Grace. God expects nothing but our love in return for the loan. I only ask for God’s grace in return and He hasn’t let me down yet. Money is the last thing on earth I will agonize over. Thy Kingdom come won’t have a cover charge.

  8. Janet said

    Right on, Stephen and Robert. I know that I have preached to my children, “The love of money is the root of all evil” and don’t ever let money ruin a relationship. I was put to the test twice in 2006. Inside myself, I was extremely angry and anxious about the money. I became so stressed out that I yelled at my sister who was the first one to test me and then I felt immediate guilt for I wasn’t practacing what I had always preached. I knelt down and prayed to God for forgiveness for letting money come between sisters. I begged forgiveness and asked God for help. When I finished praying, I felt a big weight lift off of me and I felt peace and joy once again. I called my sister the next day hoping that she would forgive my anger. Our relationship was once again loving and a few months later I received my 37,000 dollars.

    Then just before Christmas, my husband gave his brother 500 dollars for some yard work that needed to be done. My husband paid before the job was barely started. I became irritated with my husband, stating that the work will never be completed because his brother has no incentive to complete the work. I began to feel anger starting to well up inside me, but before I went off half cocked, I knelt down once again asking God for help and once again the weight was lifted and I was at peace. We have yet to see his brother since, but that is ok. I have peace and I know that we did what was right and that gives us peace and joy. We love his brother.

  9. Mary said

    Theresa and Janet, thank you for posting your struggles and how you have found relief.

    I am in a similar situation with my sisters over our inheritance. My one sister lives in the family home that should be sold and divided, but it has been nearly 3 years and she has made no effort to move and sell the home. We have asked her to pay us some monthly rent, and although she has agreed to do this she hasn’t done it.

    She is in the best fiancial position of the three of us and she seems totally unaware or uncaring of the pain that her delays, and perhaps worse, cause us.

    I am trying to focus on the ways the Lord cares for me each day and to be thankful that I am not in need of the basics. I am constantly praying for patience and to let go of the negative thoughts towards my sister. Two weeks ago when the readings at Mass were about ‘if a man steals your coat, give him what else he wants’ had me in tears.

    Thank you sharing; it is a source of strength.

  10. Peter said

    I enjoyed the beautiful stories of faith in action outlined above. It reminded me of a blog entry I made a while back (which also reminds me to do some more posting). Much less was at stake but maybe you’ll find it interesting nonetheless…


  11. Veritas said

    A lovely heart-warming story from Peter. Sounds very much like he may have entertained an angel unawares. Money – you know our attitude towards it, and how we look on those who have or have not is a constant test of our Christianity – I believe God has ordained it so.

  12. Janet said

    That was a great story, Peter. We find God’s peace, love and joy when we take the focus off ourselves and focus on others. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Carmen said

    Theresa, Janet and Mary,
    Your blogs are so on target! Being charitable, the way Christ wants us to be, can sometimes only be achieved through prayer. Christ was always praying. We should follow suit and be ready to obey. I have a sister who is in financial trouble and my fear is to have no savings if I help her. Does charity begin at home? Who to help is not always an easy answer….
    Sometimes there is more than one choice.

  14. A year ago from last Christmas I lent a friend $500. She did not pay me back. I do not know if she forgot to pay me back or not. Last Christmas I did not tell her I got another bonus.
    I had use for my recent bonus.

  15. Frank said

    Thank you all for the uplifting words. Your faith and sincerity comes through like a bright light. I am dealing with tests of my faith and find great solace in the daily readings. I was reluctant to start the readings but now I look forward to that time. What a joy it is to have God’s Word, the Church and the example of the Saints that have gone on before us.

  16. jon said

    To Theresa, who wrote an entry on Feb 11th: Your experience was like my own, when I was urged to pray for my boss who I considered was unfair and oppressive in his dealings with me. When I began to pray for him, slowly I began to accept him. And after several weeks, a new job opened up for me which was far better than the first. The boss I had prayed for gave me a glowing recommendation, which I did not expect. Truely praying for our perceived enemies or those who we feel have unjustly treated us is an act which transforms not just the other person, but ourselves.

  17. Gem said

    I never lend money either. If someone needs money and I have what they need, I just give it to them. I always tell them that someday someone else may need money and they are to give that person what they need. In other words, pay it forward. This idea did not originate with me or the movie (I’ve been doing this for decades before the movie was released); I first learned about it in a letter Benjamin Franklin sent to a friend who was asking for a loan.

  18. elvira said

    I loved reading every entry on this subject of lending. I love the idea of not lending but to “pay it forward.” My question is, as a parent, how do you teach your children responsibility by following this way of “lending.” (no strings attached). Will we be giving them the right lesson in life if they keep asking us for money because they run out – I’m referring to children whether they’re in their 30’s or 10 year olds. I truly would like to follow this approach with my children as it seems that it’s a common dilemma between family members. But is it morally right to keep lending money to our children without any strings attached. What would be your words of wisdom to your children if you do follow this no-strings-attached approach?

  19. Chris said

    What a question! Maybe each circumstance would be different. I am now trying to teach mine the concept of money first. And then perhaps the loaning. But I come from a large family where most things were owned in common including socks. Still respecting personal belongings is an issue, as this is one way we express respect for the individual. A very important issue these days.
    So after we teach them to respect others by respecting their belongings, perhaps we should teach them next to trust a little, by sharing their earthly goods and money easily with friends and loved ones, and with the church, their time too. But teach them fairness and good sense in all things of course, otherwise we might be liable to God for carelessness. Look to peoples needs first and build from there, perhaps.

  20. HELEN said

    Hi to all, i have read a lot of your comments with interest. It seems to me that most agree that we should give and not count the cost.

    I think we all came into this world with nothing, and all that we have is god given.

    We would be and would have nothing without the love of god through his son Jesus Christ.

    I think what ever we have god has given us to use wisely and to share freely.

    so nothing is owed and all debts are paid for what is money. it will melt and burn and disappear, but our love for god and for each other will live for an eternity and be our true
    ticket to salvation. So forget material things, if you have it and someone else needs it give it to him or her, don’t ask for it back. God does not give his love then take it back. He didn’t send manna from heaven then say to the people, ” ten pounds please, no credit”
    He gives us what we need if we ask him, we should follow our fathers example and give to or brothers and sisters when they ask us

  21. Stephen said

    As for teaching children, example is always the best teacher I think. Not bragging or making a show but always prudently extending the hand. Children learn what is important from us, the ‘first and best teachers’. If we show confusion about the importance of mone or how it should be handled then they will pick up on that confusion. Be explicit and repeat it often: Money is only important in the way we use it. Helping them to understand what is a waste of money versus what is the good use of money but the way we use money will give the lessons you seek to impart. Prudence is an important lesson, but we must also see in the lesson of St. Francis that we cannot judge how our children come to understand their attachment to money and material things! I found that once my kids came to understand what value money had in terms of what they want and need, they came to understand how to give it away as well. Ahh but I ramble without a lot of substantive help. Fall back on the example thing!

  22. Janet said

    One has to discern when they loan money with “no strings attached”, whether the money is for a real need or a want. Our children call things that they want, “needs”. We don’t just give, give, give to friends and family unless it is a “need”. Some of us are users and some are enablers. If you have the money and you want to help someone, do it but like I suggested, discern first. We never had much money when our children were growing up. We taught our children love for one another. When they did grow up, they helped each other financially, as needed, giving it as a gift. This set both the giver and the taker free from worry. They have made their parents extremely happy to see that all of the work(teaching them about God), play and prayers for our children has paid off. Our God is an awesome God!

  23. Anne said

    Peter Says:
    February 27th, 2007 at 9:47 pm
    I enjoyed the beautiful stories of faith in action outlined above. It reminded me of a blog entry I made a while back (which also reminds me to do some more posting). Much less was at stake but maybe you’ll find it interesting nonetheless…


    Sorry. I would have loved to have read Peter’s story but I could not reach the link. It was apparently out of date.
    Please advise.

  24. Sharan said

    I, too, want to read Peter’s story but the link given doesn’t work.
    Thanks to all of you for your posts; they have helped me immensely in deciding what to do with a problem I have been having. God bless you!

  25. mike said

    I agree with Gem (June 10th)It is so much more comfortable to meet some-one you’given The Lord’s money to pass on,then some-one who is overdue on a loan.

  26. Tom said

    What wonderful comments brimming with wisdom. For my part, like many of you, I don’t loan money, I give it as I am able. I do this in response to the rich blessings of the Lord. I’m certain I have given money to those who had wants rather than needs; to those who were unworthy, to some who were not using their own resources wisely. So what? While I was lost in sin, God loved me and gave his son for me. I am charged to love, and one way of loving someone is to give. And occasionally someone surprises me and gives back unasked, and we are both blessed.

  27. Joy said

    Lending has proved difficult for me. I am a helper type but have sometimes been hurt. When approached for a loan I now just declare to the person in need that I would rather make it a gift. If it’s not too large an amount, $300 or under, I just give it. If the borrower actually needs a very large amount I have loaned it at fair interest. I actually gave the borrower a copy of my account statement as of the withdrawal date, with the balance and the account number blacked out, to show that I did not get the money off a tree but from the account where I keep money to pay my own bills. As for lending to children, I am guilty of forgiving my kids their debts almost immediately after the loan is made, even after stressing to them and to myself that this is only a loan. My own Mom was a reliable bank who set up a reasonable return date but did not charge interest. Her method was simple. If you paid her back then she would lend again and again. If you didn’t pay her back, even a small amount, then she wouldn’t lend again. She was a faithful, devout Catholic, and she had no qualms about protecting her property and being sure she didn’t let anyone be a thief or a liar with her money.

  28. Emily said

    In my extended family there are some who have trouble managing debt. These are ideas for helping such a person from my parent’s example.

    DO NOT lend them money, if you know they have trouble with other debt. There is too good a chance that guilt and resentment will poison the relationship when this debt is also mismanaged. Better to freely give (particularly if it can be in the form of christmas or birthday money) then to lend in such circumstances.

    DO be careful about bailing them out, it is very easy to end up supporting their financial mismanagement. Sometimes it is truly more loving in the long run to not bail someone out.

    DO consider possible means of non-monetary support that you can provide even if you can’t afford to give or find it unwise to give freely (while still fulfilling your family duties) – my parents have offered house room, babysat, given food and clothing ….

    It may be more annoying and troublesome to provide room and board to someone who can no longer afford rent and food due to financial mismanagement, so that they can pay back their debts themselves but it may be the wiser course in some cases.

  29. Chris said

    My partner broke up with me after 10 years (having cheated through the last 4 years). On the day she left, she owed me almost $2,000. I never saw the money, and she said she sold my bike and my clothes. I pray that I can be as wise and as forgiving as all of you who have written, I pray for her, and I pray for my own peace.

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