Other Biblical Texts to Study

Matthew 18:21; Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3–4; Matthew 18:22; Genesis 4:24; Matthew 18:27; Luke 7:40–43; Matthew 18:28–30; Deuteronomy 15:1–11; Matthew 18:33; Matthew 6:12; Romans 13:8; Colossians 3:12–13; Ephesians 4:32; Matthew 18:35; Matthew 6:14–15

Things to Think About

• How do you manage your debts? Do you set rules or limits for borrowing and lending?

• Is a debt always a bad thing? Can it be a tool if we use it wisely?

• What do you make of Paul’s words in Romans 13:8: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another”? How strictly and literally should we take this verse?

• Can you recall an occasion when you were generous? Can you recall an occasion when you were unforgiving? How did you feel on each occasion?

• Why do you think people get into debt? Should others help them? How can they help themselves?

• What do you think about all the advertising that encourages us to take advantage of using credit? Does it make us aware of legitimate opportunities or try to manipulate us?

• Do you think people in deep debt are best served by having their debts canceled? What message does this send to people about falling into debt?

• Can Jesus’ words in this parable and elsewhere be extended to “forgiving the debts” of poor countries? You might want to study this question in conjunction with chapter 9 on the parable of the two debtors (Luke 7:40–50).

• Do you think greed is what makes the free enterprise system work? If so, what do you think can be done to change the way the economy works?

• Do you agree that greed needs to be distinguished from self-interest? How can you apply this to your own life?


Article excerpted from Economic Parables by David Cowan used with permission of Authentic, 2007.


David Cowan is a pastor, speaker, writer, and theologian. He holds a Bachelor of Theology and Master of Theology, both from the University of Oxford, and a Diploma in Ministry from Westfield House, Cambridge. For over twenty years, he worked as a journalist, editor, and bank executive in Europe and North America for organizations such as Financial Times, Euromoney, and the World Bank Group in Washington DC. He has written for the Washington Times, Financial Times, The Times of London, The Middle East and has been interviewed by major print, television, and radio media, including CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and BBC Radio. He lives in Cluny, France with his wife and two children.