BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Dear Colleagues,

PRACTICING PRUDENCE OVER PRESUMPTION

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Good Morning!

The other day I visited a Christian young man who inherited a debt from his recently deceased father that was into the 10’s of millions of dollars.  Loans leveraged at 90% were made on future investment projects based on the assumption that a best case scenario would continue in the economy and business environment. Without warning, however, the bottom fell out, and the projects went into the tank.

 It is difficult to see how this fine young man will not be strapped with a multiplying debt service for decades to come – if not for the rest of his life. The only visible way out of the quagmire is to declare bankruptcy. Since his father was known in the region as a Christian leader, such action will leave massive numbers of people angry and disillusioned with him and his “Christian” company.

 Admittedly, the practice of extensive borrowing and leveraging is common practice in business. But is it right for the believer?  Are such practices Biblical? 

 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender…Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” (Prov. 22:7; Rom. 13:8a)  (See Neh. 5:4,5; Mt. 18:25)

 As I reflected upon this situation,  Proverbs 16:9 came to mind“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  When we borrow and leverage to the hilt, are we not presuming upon God to control the future in a manner that guarantees the success of our pre-determined game plan? Could this be the kind of sin against which the Psalmist prayed?  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me…”?  (Psa. 19:13a KJV)

 According to the dictionary,+  presumption is to take upon oneself without warrant or permission; to dare; to act or proceed over-confidently; to be offensively forward, audacious, or arrogant.  Consider,

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’  As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil…In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”  (Jms. 4:13-16a; 1:11)  (See Gen. 11:3,4; Prov. 27:1)

Prudence+  means exercising sound judgment;  being careful to avoid errors; sagacious; judicious“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Prov. 22:3)

Could the practice of heavy borrowing and leveraging signal an unhealthy rush to make money?  Could it be that we want the “perks” wealth affords, before we’ve rightfully earned the substance?  If this be true, we would do well to heed the Scripture’s call to moderation,  “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow….Don’t weary yourself trying to get rich. Why waste your time? For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!”  (Prov. 13:11b; 23:4 [Living])  (See Prov. 28:20; 1Tim.6:8-10)

QUESTION:  In your business routine are you practicing prudence over presumption?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

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