The book of Proverbs warns you and me and all readers against becoming liable for the financial obligations of others, saying, “If you become surety…” (Proverbs 6:1). This means being a cosigner—the one who is responsible for a debt if the borrower defaults.
Suppose a relative or friend wants to buy a car but needs additional money to make the loan payments. Then your friend or relative comes to you and asks you to cosign the note. What is the best way to handle this kind of request? Take time to think and pray and ask for advice. Don’t feel pressured by any kind of time limit. Take all the time you need before you make this kind of commitment. And if you are married, your spouse should be involved from the first minute.
Consider these reasons why you should take your time and be sure before agreeing to cosign for a someone’s loan:
- You might be helping someone buy something which is not God’s will for them to have.
- You might be discouraging the development of your friend’s patience, faith, and trust in God to provide.
- You may be practicing bad stewardship. Remember that Scripture instructs you to be a wise and careful steward of what you have (1 Corinthians 4:2).
- You risk the possibility of bitterness in a close relationship, especially if that person defaults on their loan. It is better for them to be upset with you right away when you say “no” than for you to shoulder the results of a default in the future.
The biblical approach is to discern if there is a real and legitimate need. If so, it is better to give money outright, than to become surety.
In Proverbs for a Woman’s Day, Elizabeth George takes you on a journey through the 31 chapters of Proverbs, which cover the matters closest to your heart. Don’t guess about the next step and hope for the best. Get a clear view of the right path as you follow God’s wisdom found in the Bible.