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Money tied up in Church Buildings

We were visiting another church recently and standing enjoying a coffee and a bun in the middle of their service when I got talking to a chap. I congratulated him on how his church had finally repaid its 3 million dollar mortgage. “I think it’s a waste”, he said, “for churches to spend so much money on church buildings. Why can’t they just rent them, and use all that money instead on the overseas mission field?”

Why not indeed? It’s an attractive scenario. But then sometimes what seems sensible to us isn’t sensible to God. His ways are different from ours, and this is one such example.

By renting we borrow someone else’s property. The Bible doesn’t forbid borrowing. Instead it warns us against it by telling us that “the borrower is servant to the lender” Pr 22:7. The tenant is yoked to the landlord in an unequal partnership. The tenant must maintain the property to the satisfaction of the landlord and changes can only be made with the landlord’s permission. The landlord has the power to make all kinds of demands, alter the property, reduce the size, increase the rent, sell the property and even to tip out the tenants without reason. Israel was told again and again by God never to enter into such an arrangement with a heathen power or it would suffer the consequences. The New Testament commands: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Cor 6:14-17.

God desired His people to help each other and lend to each other without interest so that they would not need to borrow from non-believers. Instead of renting/ borrowing buildings for church purposes and instead of building/ purchasing church buildings with bank-borrowed money (and paying huge interest) it is better to follow God’s principles by giving and lending and borrowing from each other without interest.

To your brother you shall not charge interest,
that the Lord your God may bless you. Dt 23:19-20

The righteous are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed. Ps 37:26

Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely,
who conducts his affairs with justice. Ps 112:5

Give to the one who asks you,
and do not turn away from
the one who wants to borrow from you. Mt 5:42

And listen to the results God promised those who fully obey His commands:

You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. Deut 28:12-13.

What a blessing!