What do you do when a fellow Christian owes you money and can’t or won’t repay it? Or, when a Christian owned business is behind on their payments to you?
It is difficult situation, but there is some Biblical guidance available. Let’s look at this passage from the Gospel of Matthew.
15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matthew 18:15 – 17
Here are three principles based on this passage:
1. Not paying on time is a sin against you.
The debtor has not kept his word to you that he/she would pay you by a certain date. You have been sinned against. So, falling behind on a debt, or a business not paying an invoice within terms, fits within the scope of this scripture.
2. Non-payment of debt is not just a money issue.
It is an issue of Christian character. Not paying the debt reflects poorly on the debtor’s character, and therefore poorly on the entire community. In addition, the debt has come between you and interjected a discordant note into the relationship.
These issues of character and relationship are just as important as the money itself. Once you enter a debtor/creditor relationship with another Christian, you assume the role of someone who can impact that person’s character.
You do not have the option of not pursuing the debt. To do so abdicates your responsibility to help shape the person’s character and to attempt to patch the injury to the relationship. The passage above offers no other option.
3. The creation of debt on the part of another Christian is a serious issue.
Resolving a bad debt can take months, lots of time, and be emotionally excruciating. While Christians often feel like they should offer better terms or discounted prices to other Christians, the consequences on the lender of the debtor not paying on time are such that a Christian should be very careful about assisting another Christian to get into debt to him.
To review an in depth analysis and a step-by-step process to collect a debt from another Christian company, check out this free E-book: How do you collect a debt from another Christian?