Lending & Love
Elaine and I recently watched a few episodes of “The Borgias”, a Netflix series that depicts the story of Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo Borgia) who with his family was suspected of many crimes including adultery, incest, bribery, theft, and murder. The depiction of the times helped me to understand a bit more about the churches historical views on usury (lending money with interest), which I found myself reading about and meditating on this morning. For most of church history, the lending of money with any interest was considered a sin. In modern society we understand intimately that money has time value, and functioning credit markets with rates of interest serve a vital role in helping people in all strata of society to improve their lot. If you look at the original verse on usury from the Bible, God relays to Moses and the Israelites that “if you lend money to any of my people who are in need, do not charge interest as a money lender would.” Note that this is specific to lending to the underprivileged, and the practice of lending at the time “as a money lender would” meant charging exorbitantly high interest rates. A modern translation might yield “don’t rip off poor folks.” But in a world that lacked transparency, where those with means could take advantage of those without, it was just simpler to say “all lending with interest is wrong.” Dear God, it’s so important to have a relationship with you, and not to rely solely on the wisdom of others. There is of course a role for godly council, and you call us to honor authority even though those in authority are often corrupt. But we love because you first loved us. If we waited for you to honor us when we were perfect, we’d be holding our breath for a really long time. People are not perfect, leaders are not perfect, but you are perfect, and it is in you that we trust. Thank you for giving us the gift of relationship with you. In your son’s name, Amen.