Accepting God's Forgiveness

Even if you realize that bankruptcy is your only option, you may still feel hesitant. Perhaps you feel embarrassed or guilty. If so, may I remind you that Scripture contains numerous examples where God forgave people of far worse behavior than taking on more debt than they could handle. For instance, Jesus forgave prostitutes (Luke 7:36-50), extortionists (Matthew 9:9-13), thieves (Luke 23:26-43), adulterers (John 8:1-11), and murderers (Acts 9).

Many biblical money management teachers say that Christians who file for bankruptcy should still pay back what is owed, even if it takes the rest of their lives. For a long time, that's what I believed.  However, during the process of writing Money Strategies for Tough Times, that teaching just didn't sit right with me.  As I thought about it and sought God's guidance, what kept coming to mind was the fact that Jesus didn't say to those he forgave, "Go now, leave your life of sin, and show up every Saturday to sweep the temple for the next twenty years." He gave them a fresh start. Likewise bankruptcy offers a fresh start for those who need one most, have owned up to their role in their financial problems, and have taken steps to avoid trouble in the future.

Matt Bell is the author of two books published by NavPress: "Money, Purpose, Joy" (September 2008) and "Money Strategies for Tough Times" (April 2009).  He speaks at churches, conferences, universities, and other venues throughout the country.  To learn more about his work and read his blog, go t