Monday, 1 February 2016

Usury is a Product of a Selfish, Self-seeking Prideful Heart which has No Love

For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil (Luke 6:32-35).

Many in the modern Church, that is 21st century think that there is nothing wrong with usury. They do not even think it is an issue of concern, not even one of morality. They think that because the New Testament does not (explicitly) talk about it, it is legitimate, that one has liberty to charge usury. Although the New Testament does not speaking explicitly about it, it does speak about the heart of one who expects what he lends to be returned as per Luke 6:32-35, for example. 

This implies something about the heart of him who not only expects what he lends to be return to him, but also expects a gain on it. Indeed, the New Testament does speak about the heart of the usurer. In Luke 19:21-23 of the Parable of the Minas, the master tells the wicked servant who said that he thought him to be an "austere man" that he will judge him by his own mouth (Luke 19:22). In judging the wicked servant by his own mouth who described the master as hard, he asks him rhetorically why did he not put the master's money so that he may gain by usury:

 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
(Luke 19:21-23). 


Luke 19:23 which says "Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?"  is often used by many true followers of Christ to justify usury. They genuinely think that this parable indicates that Jesus is affirming usury. However, this is clearly a serious misinterpretation of the Parable. The question in Luke 19:23 is asked in the context of rebuking a wicked servant as to why he did not seek to gain usury for the master, if he thought he was a hard man, to judge him according to his mouth. This is to imply that the act of charging usury is what a hard-hearted person does. The word 'austere' in Luke 19:22 comes from the Greek word 'austéros' which means harsh or severe. It has the connotation of being uncompassionate, uncaring, and unloving like the Unjust judge in the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8.  Such a person neither regards God nor people (Luke 18:2). This is what the usury is described as in Luke 19:21-23. Usury is the product of a heart which does not love, and he who does not love sins for love is the fulfillment of the Law of God (Romans 13:10).

Simply because the New Testament does not explicitly state that something is a sin does not mean it is not a sin. For example, it does not explicitly say that oppressing the widow and orphan is a sin. Rather, the New Testament affirms caring for widows and orphans to be pleasing to God: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27). This New Testament statement about the issue is an affirmation of the Old Testament prohibition on oppressing the widow and orphan (Exodus 22:22; Zechariah 7:10). It states it in the positive form in that it says that one shall care for the widow and orphan, rather than the negative form that shall not oppress these people.

Neither does it explicitly say that oppressing the stranger, or refugee is a sin in the New Testament. Hebrews 13:2 affirms the prohibition against oppressing the stranger: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. It is stated in the positive form in that one shall love the stranger, rather than the negative form in that one shall not oppress the stranger. 

Likewise, when Jesus said "If ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again" in Luke 6:34, he was not only affirming the prohibition against usury in the Old Testament (Exodus 22:25; Deuteronomy 23:19-20; Ezekiel 18:8,13; 22:1-11; Psalm 15:1-5). He was taking it even further by saying that lending money and expecting in return is does not make one righteous, let alone that lending money and charging usury on it, which is an abomination (Ezekiel 18:13). If one is not regarded as righteous, but unrighteous for lending and expect a return, how can the one who lends and charges usury be righteous? By no means! There is no Biblical justification for usury at all! 

The human heart thinks usury is justified, because it thinks that what one has is one's own when the truth is that all one has belongs to God and God alone (Psalm 24:1; Colossians 1:16). The pigs which Jesus allowed the demons to go into were His (Matthew 8:32) and not those who had the pigs on their farms. The meat sacrificed to idols in Corinth belonged to God, not the people or the demons (1 Corinthians 8:6). The money that the usurers in the Temple used to gain usury belonged to Jesus, and not them (Matthew 21:12-13; John 2:15). Everything a person has is given to them by God to serve Him, and not oneself at all whatsoever. 

Usury perverts the truth that what God gives belongs to Him alone, and to be used for His glory. It is a perversion. It is a product of a heart which think that it is legitimate to gain one's own, and to not serve God, but use what God has given oneself for oneself.