Let no debt remain outstanding. (Romans 13:8)
Let’s continue our inductive study of Romans 13. Paul broadens his challenge to “Give everyone what you owe him,” in verse 7, to “Let no debt remain outstanding,” in verse 8.
In the original language verse 8 is much stronger. It should read “Stop owing to anyone even one thing.” Evidently the Roman Christians were withholding taxes as a protest for the injustice of the government. Many have faced this temptation and succumbed to it by such rationalizations. Paul demands, “Stop it!”
But this command goes way beyond just paying taxes and customs. We are to live debt free! That is tough in our commercialized world. The world encourages debt. Many are enslaved to credit card debt.
Does this mean we should not get a mortgage to help in buying a home or a loan to buy a car or get an education? I don’t believe it is wrong to get a mortgage or loan, so long as you have thought through what you can afford and are confident you can make the agreed upon payments. You then only owe a debt if you are behind in your payments.
For many in our affluent society the temptation to overextend and take on unrealistic debt is almost overwhelming. So we should take Paul’s strong words seriously. Force yourself to work out a budget that has enough slack in it to cover the unexpected. Whenever possible save up what is needed to make a purchase and pay for it in cash. It’s better to live modestly if necessary to stay within the parameters Paul lays out here.
Always remember what the wise man said in Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is servant to the lender.”