INVESTMENTS AND ASSET MANAGEMENT
The taking of usury in the sense of a reasonable rate of interest
for the use of money employed in trade is different from lending
to the poor and needy, and is nowhere forbidden. This kind of
lending is referred to in the New Testament as a perfectly
understood and allowable practice.
In Luke 19:12-23 we find a parable in which servants are given
charge over certain amounts of money. Some were given more and
some were given less. The point of the parable is that each
person should use what God has given him to produce profits for
His Creator. And those who produce nothing will get nothing in
return for their lack of effort.
However, the thing of interest for this study is what the master
said to the servant with the poor attitude: "You knew that I was
an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that
I did not sow. Wherefore then gave not you my money into the
bank, that at my coming I might have received mine own with usury
[interest]?" (v.23). It would seem that verse 23 sanctions the
act of usury; and indeed it does sanction the act of making a
profit by wisely investing money to be used in a profit making
In Matthew 25:27 we see the same account of this parable. There
is no doubt that what is being spoken of here is a money-making
situation. As with any investment there is a certain amount of
risk involved; one could lose his money as well as make a profit.
The taking of interest in a purely investment situation is
nowhere forbidden in the Old or the New Testaments.
Investments should not be considered an act of selfish lending.
Investments are purely a business function, and are made purely
for gain of one type or another. There must be benefits for the
lender or there is not an incentive to make the investment.
A major character trait of God is that He does not change: "For I
am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not
consumed" (Mal.3:6). "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today,
and forever" (Heb.13:8).
(Actually, this is so often a mis-quoted, to try and uphold just
about anything that may be written in the OT. The truth of the
matter is that God (and hence Christ, as God of the OT) DOES
INDEED CHANGE THINGS AT TIMES, from one age to another age. I
have explained this in some detail in other studies of mine, but
one classic example is "physical circumcision." As a law from God
it did not come into being before Abraham, and it certainly is
not a "must" obey law today under the NT, as the NT clearly
proves. Also, observing the Feasts of God at Jerusalem, where God
had placed His name, is no longer a law for NT Christians. God's
Festivals can now be observed ANYwhere, and there is no central
location one must travel to in order to observe them. So quoting
Mal.3:6 and Heb.13:8 for the study we are under, is also a mis-
applying of those verses. What those verses are all about is not
"specific" laws of God, but the CHARACTER of God. He NEVER
CHANGES in his Holy, Perfect, Righteous, Sinless, Just,
CHARACTER, in dealing with people, no matter what age or what
laws in that age He has given for His children to obey and follow
- Keith Hunt).
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all
them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the
tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold
doves. And said unto them, It is written, my house shall be
called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of
"He that has ears to hear, let him ,sear. But whereunto
shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children
sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And
saying, We have piped unto you, and you have not danced; we
have mourned unto you and you have not lamented."
"If any example in the Bible stands out as the premier
example, it is the account of Christ and the temple
moneychangers. The moneychangers, as the name indicates,
were in the business of foreign currency exchange.
Part of the annual sacrifice requirements of the Mosaic law
was the offering of a census payment of half a shekel of
silver (Ex. 30:12-15). Jerusalem was flooded with visiting
Hebrews from all over the Mediterranean during the Passover,
adding to an already diverse population (Acts 2:5). Various
coins from many lands would have to be converted to the
proper offering, the shekel. The moneychangers performed
this service, and as the hostility of Jesus indicates, they
did so at a profit" (ibid., I.B.L.).
"What was their crime? The gaining of profit from foreign
exchange transactions is an old and respected profession.
The most rigorous of the medieval commentators allowed banks
to make profits from this service; this was considered
banking's foremost legitimate function.
Why the overwhelming hostility of Jesus against them? The
reason almost certainly lies in the location of their
tables. They were set up in the outer court of the temple"
(A Commentary on the Holy Bible, by Matthew Poole, p. 98).
"The presence of the temple added an obvious, unmistakable
aura of holy sanctity to the men whose services were being
offered there. The visiting Hebrews would not have to deal
with gentile moneychangers on the outside. They could trust
the men of the temple, or so they thought. An implicit, and
in all likelihood an explicit, demand was being made by the
rulers of the temple; the sacrifices required by God should
be obtained from the moneychangers (and dove salesmen)
inside the jurisdiction of the Lord's house. The
moneychangers were reaping a monopoly return because of
their close connection to the institutional church. They
were not subject to the competitive pressures of a free
market in money exchange. They were shielded by the name of
God. By so using God's name they dishonored Him. Monopoly
profits are not to be earned in this way.
We can only surmise that the rates of exchange were
unfavorable in comparison to rates available outside the
temple court. We can only acknowledge the fact that the
power to reap monopoly economic returns is one which is
unlikely to be ignored over long periods of time. Again, we
can only surmise that the moneychangers turned a portion of
their profits over to the temple authorities. It would seem
reasonable that temple authorities would demand a cut of
monopoly returns that had their origin in the very aura of
the temple. It is possible that the moneychangers were even
salaried employees of the temple. But whatever the concrete
economic arrangements, Christ's words made their position in
God's eyes quite clear: 'It is written, My house shall be
called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of
thieves'" (Matthew 21:13)" [ibid., I.B.L., pp. 809-810].
MAKING A PROFIT
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man leaving the country,
and he called his own servants to him, and entrusted his
property to them. And to one of them he gave five talents,
and to another two, and to another one; to each one
according to his respective ability. And immediately he left
the country. But after he had gone, the one that had
received the five talents traded with them and produced
another five talents. And in the same way also, the one that
had received the two, he also increased by another two
talents. But the one that had received the one talent went
away and dug a hole in the ground and hid his lord's money.
Then after a long time, the lord of those servants came, and
brought them into account. And the one that had received
the five talents came to him and brought an additional five
talents: saying Lord you entrusted to me five talents: look
I have gained besides them five additional talents. And his
lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant: you
were faithful over a few things, I will appoint you over
many things: enter into the joy of your Lord.
And the one who had received two talents came to him and
said, Lord you entrusted me with two talents: Look, I have
gained besides them two additional talents. His Lord said to
him, Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful
over a few things, I will place you in charge over many
things: enter into the joy of your Lord.
And then the one who had received the one talent came and
said, Lord I knew you to be a harsh man, harvesting where
you did not plant, and gathering where you did not scatter.
And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the
ground. Now look, here you have your own. And the Lord
answered and said to him, You wicked and lazy servant, you
knew I reap where I did not plant, and gather where I did
not scatter: Therefore you should have at least placed my
money with the exchangers, and then at my coming I should
have received my own with interest. Now then take the talent
from him, and give it to the one that has ten talents.
Because to every one who has shall be given, and he shall
have an abundance: but the one who has not, even that which
he has shall be taken away from him. And throw out the
unprofitable servant into utter darkness: there shall be
weeping and gnashing of teeth" ('A Harmony of the Gospels,'
by Fred Coulter).
In this parable of the talents Jesus is teaching his disciples a
very important lesson about spiritual growth by using a physical
thing (money) as an example. In verse 27 He mentions the existing
practice of exchanging one currency for another more desirable
one for a profit, which was purely a business deal and had
nothing to do with making a loan. It is interesting to note that
Jesus did not condemn the practice of profit-making from this
type of business. The lesson He was teaching to those who are
called to His service was that they had better be about His
business while He is in heaven. And if one is timid about
stepping out under his own direction and using his particular
God-given talent for his work, he had better put that talent
under the direction of another, so that he will still be able to
be a profitable servant.
Luke 19:11-28 is basically the same parable with the same general
theme about being a diligent servant and increasing the gifts God
has given. The King James Version uses the word usury here; other
versions use the word interest. However, the original Greek word
used is 'tokos' and means "interest on money loaned." In no way
can the word 'tokos' be used to infer anything but a gain above
what is originally being submitted in the transaction.
8. THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW
Jesus taught the same exact thing about usury to his disciples
that he had commanded the ancient Israelites. The only difference
was that He explained the law's true intent and purpose to them
and magnified it as the prophet Isaiah said He would: "The Lord
is well pleased for his [Christ's] righteousness' sake; he will
magnify the law and make it honorable."
Notice this magnification of the law in Luke 6:33-36:
"And if you do good to them which do good to you what thank
[reward] have you? For sinners also do even the same. And if you
lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you?
For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But
love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing
again; and your reward will be great, and you shall be the
children of the highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and
to the evil. Be you therefore merciful, as your Father is also
Jesus takes the law of lending (usury) and shows how the ROYAL
LAW OF LOVE applies here: "You shalt love your neighbor as
yourself' (Matt.22:39). He shows them what kind of attitude they
should have and what kind of examples they should be. He tells
them they should be merciful, just like God the Father is
merciful and just. This is what the law of usury is all about -
it is about being concerned, being kind, being compassionate and
being merciful to those less fortunate than ourselves. The law of
usury is encompassed within the royal law of love.
God the Father and Jesus Christ are the personification and
perfection of love. The violation of the usury law demands the
death penalty because it violates the principle of love. And
those who do not have this vital attribute cannot inherit eternal
life. Those who are to become immortal must have this attribute
to become God, for "we shall be like him in the resurrection."
1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not
yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall
appear we shall be like him."
1 John 4:16-21, "And we have known and believed the love that God
has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God,
and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have
boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in
this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out
fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect
in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I
love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he that loves
not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has
not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who
loves God love his brother also."
SEPARATION OF THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS
In the parable of the separation of the sheep and the goats,
(i.e., the righteous and the unrighteous), Christ shows an
expanded view of the royal law of love. He shows that doing good
and showing kindness to other humans is the same as showing
kindness to Himself. The bottom line is that Christ equated
kindness toward those in need as righteousness, and unkindness as
evil, each with its associated rewards or punishments. Please
read this parable in Matthew 25:31-46.
BUSINESS AND CHARITY
The Christian must understand the distinctions between business
and voluntary charity. Business involves an economic return (or
at least the potential for making a profit) to the investor.
Charity involves the transfer of scarce economic resources to
another, with no thought of return (Matt.10:8; Luke 6:35).
"A person can hardly call himself a Christian and a faithful
steward if he seals off business from charity in an absolute
manner. Businesses are supposed to earn profits if they are
to be successful, as several parables of Jesus indicate.
However, ruthless competition that is utterly devoid of
mercy is also condemned in the parables. But the fact that a
particular young ruler was told to sell all of his goods and
give everything to the poor does not stand as the
requirement for every steward. Nor does the example of the
church at Jerusalem in Acts 4:32 prevail as the model for
A person must be careful not to drown out the revelation of
God in His Word, listening only to the parables of profit or
to the examples of total poverty. He is responsible before
God to respond to the leading of God's Spirit at different
times and along each turn in life's path. We are admonished
to grow spiritually by means of earthly parables of economic
stewardship. The fact that God may demand a person to give
up all that he has does not imply that God is sanctioning
the moral validity of continued economic losses. What God is
saying is that one must not be morally ruthless in business,
nor morally wasteful in charity. 'Share the wealth' is a
biblical principle. In short, business is not charity and
charity is not business. Charity should be carefully
administered in a business-like manner with honest
accounting and budgeting. But it is not a business. They are
separate sovereign realms. And their differences must be
Some say that a Christian cannot borrow because of Paul's
teaching in Romans 13:8: "Owe no man any thing but to love one
another, for he that loves another has fulfilled the law."
However, reading from verse one of this chapter we find that the
thing Paul is talking about is being in subjection to civil
government officials and civil laws of taxation.
The New Testament in Modern Speech translates the first part of
this verse thusly: "Leave no debt un-paid except the standing
debt of mutual love..." This is probably the more accurate
translation since it falls in line with and supports other
scriptures that speak of paying one's debts. To say this
scripture prohibits a Christian from borrowing would discount all
other Bible references on the subject of borrowing.
THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE
"For this, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not
kill, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness,
you shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment,
it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, YOU SHALL
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
"Give to him that asks you, and front him that would borrow
of you, turn not you away."
9. CHRISTIANS AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
Is a Christian allowed to borrow money or anything at interest?
Yes, a Christian may borrow at interest. However, the problem
arises when one borrows too much and places himself in debt to
the point of being a slave to the lender. Although this is not a
paper on how to conduct one's financial affairs, nonetheless it
is a good practice when purchasing a thing to obtain total
ownership at the outset of the transaction, if at all possible.
This releases one of any future obligations and burdens of
payment. One must realize that banks are in business to make a
profit. They are not charitable organizations; therefore they
have no mercy on those who cannot repay their debt.
Some professing Christian groups which hold a legalistic and
patriotic persuasion toward the Bible and their particular
country, have come to believe that a Christian should not
participate in the existing financial systems of this world; and
that having a checking or an interest-bearing account in one of
these institutions is tantamount to committing sin.
There is no doubt that this world's current banking and monetary
systems are not operated in a godly manner. Of course, there is
very little in this corrupt and sinful world that is godly. If
all people obeyed God's laws there would be no inequities.
This is obviously not the case in the world in which we live, and
this is precisely why the Creator must set up His righteous
government on this earth to guide the affairs of mankind. [For a
very good insight into the evils of interest banking, read War
Cycles/Peace Cycles, by Richard Kelly Hoskins].
However, there is no sin attached to borrowing money from a
lending institution if it can be done within the guidelines of
sound business practices. But for a Christian to find it
necessary to borrow from a secular source because of acute
necessity or poverty is a condemnation upon those who profess to
be Christian, since the law requires those of the brotherhood to
care for their own.
Having a checking or interest-bearing account in no way violates
the biblical law of usury. Of course, if one has individual
concerns about the privacy of his financial matters and does not
wish to be associated with a financial institution, that is his
business. But, neither party should condemn the other for his
Some seem to think that most poor people are poor because of some
fault of their own, and this could very well be true in SOME
cases. However, MANY are or become poor because of reasons BEYOND
their control, such as the death of the provider, injury,
physical defects, or disabilities, etc.
These and many, many other reasons and circumstances beyond one's
control can cause a person to be poor, or to fall into poverty. A
person in such a state is not to be shunned or scorned, but
should be helped that he might overcome his particular situation
and attain to a more prosperous state of living.
The apostle John echoed God's desire for his spiritual children
when he said: "Beloved, I wish above all things that you may
prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers" (3 John 2).
Psalm 37:21, "The wicked borrows, and pays not again: but the
righteous shows mercy, and gives."
IS THE LAW OF USURY FOR TODAY'S CHRISTIAN?
For the answer to the question "Is the law of usury for today's
Christian," the Christian must answer a foundational question
about the law in general and whether or not a Christian must obey
the laws of God.
If one admits that a Christian is part of spiritual Israel (Heb.
8:8-10; 1 Pet.2:25), and that God's laws are spiritual (Rom.
7:12-14), then it follows that a law which is not specifically
cancelled or suspended by a "thus saith the Lord," or cannot be
obeyed because it is physically impossible to comply with, would
still be in force and should be obeyed.
Deuteronomy 15:4 states that the law of usury will be in force
for Israelites until there are no more poor among them. Are there
still physically poor Israelites? Yes, there are! Are there still
spiritually poor Israelites (i.e., Christians)? Yes, there are!
When a contention arose among the disciples about what they
considered a waste of valuable ointment that a woman anointed
Jesus with, He said: "For the poor always you have with you; but
me you have not always" (John 12:8). Since Jesus said the poor
will be with us always, will this law ever be cancelled? Yes, it
will be cancelled, but prior to its cancellation the whole world
will go through some very traumatic events spoken of in the books
of Daniel and Revelation.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE CHRISTIAN POSITION ON USURY?
We Christians are aliens, strangers and sojourners in this world;
we are spiritual Israel. A Christian is not of this world nor its
systems, economic, political or otherwise. A Christian is of the
household of God, the kingdom of God, or, if you will, the
government of God. We are to be separate from this world's
Amos 3:3 says: "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Can
we as Christians enter into the corrupt practices of today's
society and take advantage of the poor? No, we cannot if we want
to please God the Father and Jesus Christ. Therefore we cannot
make a loan to a poor brother in Christ and attach interest to
it. It would be far better to make a gift of the loan if
For a Christian to loan money at interest to a poor person or a
person in need is breaking the royal law of love and the law of
usury in the letter, as well as the spirit.
The law of usury was not written for a barbaric society of
illiterates. It was written for a society of Kings, Priests and a
Holy People, who were and are to have love and compassion and
exhibit the very attributes of God.
10. THE BEGINNING OF ABUNDANCE
What is it that makes a law obsolete? The answer is, when there
is no longer a need for it. This is what the Eternal was
referring to in Deuteronomy 15:4: "Except when there are no more
poor among you ..." There will no longer be a need for the law of
usury when all have the spirit of God and are living in total
compliance with His precepts and principles. Read Jeremiah
It should be obvious with this short study into the law of usury
that the God Family is extremely interested in and concerned
about all of humanity, and this interest and concern is for the
rich as well as the poor.
Our Father in Heaven is most concerned for our spiritual
wellbeing. Physical objects and things are secondary; they are
temporary as we are. The things of concern are those that can be
taken with us into eternity. And these things are of the spirit
[mind] of man - the character, the attitude, the love, the godly
attributes that we have built into our innermost being by obeying
the laws, principles and precepts of God, by allowing Him through
His Spirit to work and shape us into His image.
This is what the law of usury is really about. It is about the
building of the godly character trait of concern and love for
others, and with the building of godly character comes the
promise of the Eternal as stated by the apostle Paul: "For as it
is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered
into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them
that love him" (1 Cor.2:9; Isa. 64:4).
(The above verses are true, but Paul did not end with verses 9 of
1 Cor.2. He went on to say, "BUT God has revealed them unto us by
His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep
things of God" (verse 10). Paul still continued with further
expounding on the Spirit of God that we as Christians have
received. We can meditate on this "usury" subject and come to see
the wonderful love, mercy, character, of God, in giving the laws
of "lending" and "out-right giving" and NOT usury to our fellow
Christian brother and sister, and if a nation was TRULY serving
and obeying "In God We Trust" - that nation would NOT be using
the usury system on its poor and needy. But then if a nation was
truly serving and trusting in the Eternal God, it would not be
practicing MANY things it now practices. We in the Church of God
must, where possible, within the relationships of each other in
fellowship and loving service, obey the laws of God, and apart
from strict "business transaction" with each other, the law of
usury should NOT be put upon our genuine needy fellow citizens of
the church and family of God - Keith Hunt)
B.J.Cocherell wrote this study in 1988
Entered on Keith Hunt's Website September 2003