“Look at the beautiful birthday card Ray gave me. And he even put in a $20 bill!”
“That’s MY $20! He borrowed it from me just yesterday!”
My husband had an ongoing lending system with one of our parishioners who always seemed to be a little short of cash before payday. The small amounts of money were promptly repaid as soon as the man cashed his check, so my husband never refused him. This birthday gift gave me a good laugh, and I made sure I thanked my friend, Ray, for his generosity.
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is NOT in the Bible! It is advice from a father to a son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In fact, our Lord Jesus tells us just the opposite: “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
In an office or classroom, borrowing is commonplace. People usually feel comfortable asking to borrow someone’s stapler, chair, or tape dispenser. Some of this isn’t really borrowing. They are taking the staples and tape. They can’t return them once they’ve been used.
Lending someone something expects a return… either the item, a replacement, or money. Some expect interest, too. That’s the whole point of a lending institution. However, our Lord expects a different attitude from His children, especially if the borrower is part of our Christian family or is too poor to pay us back even without interest (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Psalm 15:5). And we are to lend to our enemies who don’t even deserve our good will (Luke 6:35)!
Our Lord Jesus also checks the attitude behind our lending. If it is tightfisted and reluctant, it ruins the gesture (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). It’s much better to be generous!
During my early childhood days, my older sister and I would always stop to see the gas station man on the way to the beach near our house. This kind fellow would have a supply of patched inner tubes the neighborhood children could borrow for some extra fun on the lake. Of course, he never charged. And of course, we would never think of leaving them on the beach or taking them home with us. We depended on his generosity, and he expected the grateful return of his property.
It’s easy to notice what is happening when someone is borrowing money or an item. But what about borrowing someone’s idea? Am I careful that I’m just using it? Do I give credit to the source? Over the years, I have borrowed words from many great writers who expressed my thoughts better than I could. I would have been in a heap of trouble if I hadn’t given credit to them in my academic career.
This same careful attribution is often ignored in the world. People are sued for appropriating someone else’s idea, product design, or song. One of the biggest concerns worldwide is intellectual property rights. I appreciate it when someone asks if they can use or borrow my ideas, my music, or my writing. I know they don’t want to take credit for it as their own. They simply want to reach a wider audience with the same purpose I had in mind. So, I lend generously!
Sometimes, though, we are too casual in our daily lives and dealings with others when we borrow or take without acknowledging the source. I know in discussions, whether around the dinner table or in a meeting, I’ve heard someone rephrase my comment and be acclaimed for his or her original idea. Depending on the circumstances, I’ll speak up again or just mutter quietly to myself, “That’s what I just said.”
As leaders in our company, church, organization, or family we need to be sure that credit is given to the source. That ideas aren’t taken but only borrowed to be used going forward. It’s the free flow of ideas, the give and take, that allows problems to be solved, progress to be made, excitement for opportunities to grow.
On the other hand, if people are suspicious, tightfisted in their outlook, they will never feel comfortable in lending their thoughts. But if we cultivate a spirit of attribution plus generous give and take, lend and borrow, we will find people are more willing to share. And they will be less concerned with the footnote credit than the result.
A family, company, church, or organization moves forward more smoothly when ideas (just like inner tubes) are shared and acknowledged and used to the glory of our Lord Jesus. We can even be generous at times to allow others to use our ideas, to lend without expecting a return or acknowledgement. When we remember that it is Our Lord Jesus who gave us those ideas in the first place, we can’t really take credit. It’s His inspiration that created our wonderful idea and so much more.
This world is on loan to us from a very generous God. His creation belongs to Him. The way we use it to His glory is how we “pay back” that loan, hopefully with interest. Our Lord Jesus also knows we are on borrowed time. He wants those days to be filled with blessings pressed down and overflowing. He wants us to borrow courage from Him to face those challenging times. And He is always willing and waiting to lend us His joy!