Series: Wisdom That Works
Message: Responsibility, Opportunity, and Unity
Preacher: Dena King
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Proverbs 6:1-19 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth” (Proverbs 6:1-2).
Proverbs 6 starts with sound financial advice. In a nutshell: don’t cosign a loan with someone. If you do, your financial wellbeing and your reputation have been put in the hands of another.
It sounds kind of mean at first, doesn’t it? If you are in a position to help someone financially by cosigning a loan, shouldn’t you be helpful? Wouldn’t that be consistent with my WWJD bracelet? At first glance, it would seem that the Jesus-like thing to do would be to help your friend/neighbor out by cosigning.
But it wouldn’t.
One of the lessons I’ve learned in my first 57 years of life is that when you loan money to a friend and expect it to be paid back with interest, your friendship doesn’t stay a friendship for very long. A missed payment here, a misfortune there, and you have now become the repo man/woman having to be the heavy.
Thirty years ago my wife and I had a friend who was an aspiring musician/music producer. (That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know right there.) He was wanting a loan to purchase some equipment for his studio. We were pretty close friends, so we loaned him the money. It was a little over $500 which, to us at the time, was a chunk of change.
After he installed the equipment, he asked us to come and see it. He demonstrated how it worked by recording one of my wife’s songs and producing it on a cassette tape. (A cassette tape was a recording instrument that was oft repaired with a Number 2 pencil). They were in the studio for a couple hours playing around with the song and it sounded pretty cool on the tape.
A few months down the road, I asked our friend how and when he was planning to pay us for the loan. He said, “Oh, I already did. I recorded that tape for your wife. We’re even now.” I didn’t think we were even. So I argued the point that he had never made that arrangement with us before we visited his studio. He stood his ground. The friendship was breached. I felt gut punched and wronged and otherwise taken advantage of.
The Wisdom Writer is wise in advising his readers to not loan money to friends or cosign for neighbors. If you can’t afford to make your loan a gift, do everything you can to support your friends in their endeavors, but don’t loan money and expect the friendship to last.
Recalibrate: From your point of view, why is the Wisdom Writer so insistent about not lending money to friends and neighbors? Can you think of a time when it is a good idea?
Respond: Pray these words: “Father in heaven, help me to always value relationships over money and possessions.”
Research: Read 10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Lend Money to Friends and Family.
Remember: “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light and the corrections of disciplines are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:23, NIV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
The Words to Remember for this week are, “Their commands are like a lamp. Their teaching is like a light” (Proverbs 6:23). Using a flashlight, show your child how you can light up a dark space. What can you see when the light is on? Sometimes we make decisions when we cannot see what is ahead of us. The writer of Proverbs turns on the light for us so we can move ahead when we don’t know the way.
Has anyone broken a promise to you? What was it? How did it make you feel? Have you ever broken a promise? Did you mean to make that promise? Usually, when we make promises to each other, our goal is to keep those promises, especially if they’re pinky promises! Proverbs tells us that we should be careful about making promises. Why do you think this book filled with lots of wisdom would tell us that? Well, sometimes things out of our control can get in the way of a promise. Draw a map of you making a promise to someone at the start. Draw a curvy road and make the promise with a big star at the end. As you travel on this road things might get in the way of you making it to that promise. Let’s say you promised your friend you would bring an extra fruit snack for them at lunch tomorrow, but when you get home, you realize you’re all out of fruit snacks! Instead of making promises, try saying things like “I’ll try my best to…”
Every once in a while, someone asks for my opinion about someone trying to get a job somewhere and my name is listed as a reference. As you grow up, it becomes more and more likely that your friends won’t simply have you as someone they can count on, but will ask you to make your association known in order to help them get into a good school, get a babysitter job, or even take on a gym membership. You’ll find yourself wondering how honest you should be on those forms. Because the person in question is your friend you will always want the best for them, but can you really say they are the right person for the job? Because you remember that one time when they decided to do that one thing when you told them not to . . . ? And that other story they told about when they did that other thing . . . It gets tough to know what to do and how much to say when it counts. Solomon’s wisdom would tell you to be supportive but only to the point where you’re not putting more of yourself on the line than is reasonable. In Proverbs 6:1-5, Solomon instructs his kid not to set up a system of promises that would require him to pay for someone else’s mistakes if they can’t pay (or decide not to pay) for them on their own.
Someday you’ll be asked to sign your name to someone else’s future. When you do, be prepared to go only as far as you can before you take it upon yourself to be more responsible than you can be. It’s better to be wise than sorry!
“If you have put up security for your neighbor . . .” This verse strikes me. It strikes me because as you grow in life you will learn something vital: security is from God alone. I have tried to put my security in people, places, situations and relationships. It never works. The most secure place you have in life is on your knees in prayer. Right now I am going through some big changes! Buying a new home, selling my old one, leaving my church and becoming a full-time student. If my security was in “stuff” I would be trembling right now. Everything is up in the air. Yet, I am not afraid. I know where my security is. I know Who my security is. May you come to a place in this life where Jesus is your All.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jessyka Dooley is assistant youth director for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.