Righteousness Can’t Be Borrowed
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
Everyone admired his vast library. He had nearly 10,000 volumes. The man lived on a tiny pension. Then an enterprising librarian tried to trace down a book that had not been returned. In the house there were “books everywhere,” she said. She found the missing library book and also found an unbelievable number of other books which had been borrowed without permission from various public and private libraries and book stores. The librarian got her book all right, and five trucks and three police vans carted the rest away to return to their rightful owners. That is what you could call a rather extreme case of borrowing. But borrowing has become a real problem the world over.
All libraries have difficulty in collecting books. Valuable books are not lent to the public. Library restrictions are becoming harsher and harsher. But “borrowing” causes other problems in our economy. So many shopping carts and so many food items are “borrowed” from your neighborhood grocery shelves that there is a significant increase in your food prices to pay for the loss. Many neighbors and friends have difficulties over borrowing and their friendships are ruined. When you were younger, remember how irritated it made you when a younger member of your family borrowed a treasured possession of yours?
Borrowing is usually a bad practice, one to be generally avoided. The Psalmist says, “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously” (Psalm 37:21). In Exodus when God is giving various laws and ordinances to His people He instructs them, “If a man borrows anything of his neighbor, and it is injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution” (Exodus 22:14).
In Deuteronomy God told His people, “For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you” (Deuteronomy 15:6). It’s interesting to note that God’s chosen people Israel are in the lending and not the borrowing business.
Today, though, we strive to borrow far more than books and money. Some borrow righteousness, and there are several sources from which we borrow this. Some borrow it from their families. They cling to the spirituality of mothers or fathers, not understanding that God has no grandchildren. How often do we hear, “My mother was a godly woman,” or “My father was a godly man.” And somehow we think because of this heritage that we too are godly. Your father’s faith or your mother’s faith will not help you when you stand before God, unless you personally have embraced it and made it your faith.
Others attempt to make points with God through the right connections. They are the ones who attend church, or belong to the right civic group, who give to community causes. They are the ones who take a look at others in the neighborhood and say, “Man, I’m better than most people.” Though they never really say it, they think, “Hey, God write down all these good things I’m doing in your black book.” This type of “righteousness” just doesn’t work with God.
The Bible tells us that at the judgment men and women will stand before Christ expecting to be recognized, and He will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” What a pathetic situation. How sad to end life with only tattered fragments of righteousness all borrowed, none of which are really your own. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). It’s still true today.
Resource reading: Matthew 7:7-13.