Biblical Reasons to Forgive Debt

What the Bible Says About Forgiving Debt

If someone you care about owes you money, the most loving thing you can do for them is to let it go.

You loaned money to a close friend or family member, and they’re having some trouble paying it back. What should you do? God wants you to let it go. To understand why, let’s spend some time looking at what the Bible says about forgiving debt.

Personal debt can seriously threaten relationships. Debt creates an uneven relationship between two people, making one person a slave and the other person their master. God didn’t intend for us to live in that kind of unbalance with people, and the friction caused by such arrangements can actually damage relationships. If you really value your relationship with someone, forgiving their debt will help you preserve the core friendship that matters most.

But forgiving someone’s debt isn’t just a strategic relationship decision — it’s also the strong teaching of scripture. Study what the Bible says about forgiving debt, and you’ll find that it has a multitude of benefits. Today, we’re going to examine three.

1) Forgiveness increases love.

Forgiveness doesn’t just rescue a relationship, but actually makes it better.

Forgiving someone’s debt may help save your relationship. But Jesus takes the idea even further. He says forgiveness doesn’t just rescue a relationship, but actually makes it better.

In Luke 7:41-43, Jesus uses a story to teach Simon Peter about love, sin and forgiveness.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Jesus is making point here about sin and forgiveness, but the principles He’s teaching apply directly to finances as well. When we forgive someone, we show them love, That, in turn, stirs up love in their hearts toward us. The bigger the debt you forgive, the more love you invest in your friend’s heart. This means that when all is said and done, forgiving a debt can put your relationship on stronger footing than it ever was before.

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2) God hates usury.

Sometimes people lend money to friends or family members to help them through hard times. People who are especially shrewd with money might also attach interest to the loan in order to motivate the borrower to repay it quickly, or simply to make little bit of money on the deal. But that’s a dangerous practice that God warns us to avoid.

There are dozens of places in scripture where God forbids usury and lending at interest. For today, we’ll focus on just one. In Deut. 23:19-20, God makes it clear that His people should not loan money to each other at interest:

19 Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.

Exploitative debt is both wrong and dangerous.

The injunction against charging a brother interest is clear here. What’s fascinating is that fact that God did allow the Israelites to charge interest to a foreigner, but he didn’t allow interest to be charged to a compatriot. This reinforces what we’ve been saying about debt and relationships: God prohibited the Israelites from charging interest to each other because He knew that it would warp their relationship and cause disunity among the people. The principle holds true today: Exploitative debt is both wrong and dangerous.

3) Forgiving others unlocks forgiveness for you.

Ultimately, any discussion about forgiveness will ultimately circle back around to Jesus Himself. Through His work on the cross, Jesus purchased forgiveness for all of us who accept Him. But accepting that forgiveness requires that we forgive others, too.

Jesus makes this clear in the parable of the unmerciful servant, which you can find in Matthew 18:21-35. The whole passage is worth a read, but let’s focus on verses 32-35, where the Master chastises a servant who was forgiven a huge debt, but then ruthlessly pursued a fellow servant for a small sum of money.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Here, we see two things clearly: God forgives us our debts, and He expects us to do the same.

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If you have loaned money to someone and are considering what to do next, understanding what the Bible says about forgiving debt should make a big impact on your decision. God forgives us infinitely, and He expects us to do the same for others.

What else does the Bible say about money?

Figuring out what the Bible says about forgiving debt is just one of the many financial questions you’re likely to face in life. But you’re not alone — God has a lot to say about how to handle your money.

For years, I’ve been helping people find financial freedom in God’s word, and I would be honored to do the same for you. Subscribe to God, Money & Me today to begin your own journey to financial freedom. You can sign up free by filling out this form, and I’ll come alongside you with wisdom, encouragement and inspiration to help you live the life God has created for you.

God has great things in store for your financial life. I can’t wait to join you on the journey.

Brian Jewell



  One thought on “Biblical Reasons to Forgive Debt

    May 5, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    $590,000.00 is a lot of dept to forgive someone. How my bills going to pay, my children eat food?!??

    • charlie
      August 1, 2017 at 10:48 am

      I feel ya!

    • Kiyos
      August 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      You say that $59.,000 is a lot of money and it is. If God tells you to forgive someone’s debt or forgiven someone for what they have done to you. It is hard and I am not saying that it is easy. Who are we to not forgive someone when God has forgiven us? If you believe and have faith God will provide no matter what. If you trust in God a person that owe that large amount of money, God will provide a way for that person’s bills to get paid and children to eat.

      There was one time that I did not have food in my refrigerator and God provided food the next day for me and my family so you can not tell me God does not provide always. He provides always and knows what you need. Also, there was a time when my bills were due and I did not have a job nor did I have the money. I thank the Lord that he provided enough to pay all my bills for that month. And guess what? Plus I had a new job.

  2. Ana
    February 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you for opening my eyes! I helped someone in need and gave him $10k. It’s been more than 6 years…never saw a nickle. To be honest, I could care less if he pays me back. After reading your blog, I realize, his friendship to me is more valuable than money. Sure, that is a lot of money. However, I have been blessed and have recouped that money back and some.

    Thank you so very much!!!!!!

    • February 10, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      I’m so glad to hear this was helpful to you, Ana!

  3. Joy Lofberg
    February 24, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    I am owed $7000 (balance of a $14,000 debt to me). It has been about 4 years since I gave it to her and she paid regularly for quite some time but now she has not paid since October last year. I do not know her very well, as she is a relative of my grandaughter. When I gave her the full amount she said she wondered why. i said one day I will tell you why. I now think this is the day, At church this morning I was convicted to release her of that debt. I will write to her releasing the debt and would like a scripture verse to encourage her.
    Blessings to your ministry

  4. lee keh ren
    April 12, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    i have lend money to a sister time to time. we started courtship with the blessing of her family . two years later, one day she called and ask if the money borrow amount to 80k can be cancelled. and i said yes. after hearing my answer. she says she would not want to cheat me anymore. she never love me. since then we never communicate and money never repay as well. after two years recently i heard that she was married to a guy in her church.
    i have fogiven her. but time to time i just cant forget. memory just stir up.

  5. LT Young
    August 7, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    I feel that God is telling me to release a debt of somethings I sold to a friend in which I discounted for her to help her. I normally would have sold it for so much more. She continuously asked if she could pay half up front to get it and the other half a month later. I had already relocated to another state to take job. I allowed her to go in my storage to get the exact things listed in the transaction. I took her word. Later I noticed a avoidance, cut or normal communication as friends, however when we were communicating, everytime it was time to pay, she would come up with a later date and used her children as an excuse of how she could barely feed them. The dishonesty about alot is what caused me to log back on to my deactivated page on FB to see the real story, constant dining out, planning trips and finalizing trips across the country to amusement parks, attending tons of local events, alot of pampering. It was the dishonesty that hurt the most and we were suppose to be friends. I sacrificed quit because if I had sold my things to the public I would have gotten so much more, and would have had it on the spot. My employer did not pay for my move so that money was planned to go towards rebuilding. I noticed anger started to set in, the more she avoided me, it short response with a bad attitude, the angrier I became. I started planning the process to take her to court. She sent one small payment and angrilly demanded the rest by a certain date. One day just sitting quietly I felt the Lord telling me to forgive the debt. Then again on another he told me to forgive the debt. I started to feel like if I forgave the debt that number one I was totally done with her, and this would change my heart forever as a giver because I’ve always been a giver. I’ve always been that person to have compassion and empathy for people. I told the Lord that I feel like she has completely hardened my heart, enough to look completely away if I saw someone in need. This has not happened yet, but I have to do it out of obedience. I want to do it with my heart being in a good place and truly mean it when I tell her that the debt is forgiven. It’s easy to say, but I’m struggling more with lies and deceit of a close friend that has taken the advantage because I’m out of state. It hurts. Maybe unforgiveness, and the hardening of my heart is something that God is trying to deal with me on. I know that forgiveness is for me and the other person. It’s hard, but I know have to do it coming from a place of love, forgiveness the same as he has forgiven us. It’s really questioning where I am is my faith and walk with Christ. I’m praying. How do I get to that place of true forgiveness, peace, and trust again? God can’t fully use me with a closed heart.

  6. MIT
    August 31, 2018 at 11:20 am

    The Struggle – In Short a large amount of money was taken from me VIA deception and fraud (stolen) -. The court has found this person guilty of this and ordered the monies returned. There has been no apology or remorse spoken or shown, and all requests for negotiations have been ignored. Should I proceed thru the courts or forgive the debt? This person is neither friend nor foe; building a relationship is not the issue here. What to do?

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