About 10-12 years ago I was involved in working with a man who was coming to the church I was attending. He had made a profession of faith and I was involved in doing some discipleship with him. At some point during one of my visits, this man mentioned to me that he was short on money for something rather important (either rent or electric) to the tune of about $600. The thought came to me that maybe I could help him out with a loan, something he promised to re-pay in short order. So I wrote him a check with full confidence that he was good for his word. Well, as you can probably imagine by now, I didn’t get my money. In fact, I don’t believe he ever returned any future calls or ever showed up in church again. As someone who can be pretty frugal, that $600 loss really bothered me. A few months later I remember venting my loss to my father-in-law, someone who was well known for his generosity. I guess I expected him to commiserate with me in my misery but I still remember his response, “Yea, that has happened to me a couple of times too.” A couple times? Ok, now my great kindness/spirituality took a nice hit!
I can’t help but think of that incident when reading Psalm 37:21, which reads, “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.” There are two parts to this verse; one part for both me and the other man. First off, is the “wicked”, who borrow money but don’t pay it back. I don’t want to necessarily tag this man as wicked, but instead I’d like to think that his desire to pay me back was legitimate but instead he was physically unable to pay me back. Either way it’s certainly not a trait to emulate in any way.
The second part deals with the righteous/saved individual, who this passages says shows mercy and gives. You’ll notice it doesn’t say “loans-with-an-expectation-of-