What Are Your Borrowing Habits?
NEARLY three thousand years ago a group of men were cutting down trees along a river when the ax head flew off the handle of one of the axes and landed in the water. The man to whom this happened was greatly distraught, exclaiming: “Alas, my master, for it was borrowed!” Yes, that meant so much more to the unfortunate tree cutter than had it been his own ax head, because now he could not return what he had borrowed.*
How different from the way many borrowers feel today! When using something borrowed, instead of feeling more concern because it belongs to someone else, they often feel less. Thus a man may return a tool in not nearly as good shape as it was in when he borrowed it. A student or a book lover may borrow a book and then soil it or, worse, mark it up. Time and again one comes across a book in a public library that some borrower has marked up or from which he has even cut out one or more pages.
Many others, again, evince poor borrowing habits by failing to return what they borrow. Do you? A man may borrow a garden tool or an auto tool from his neighbor and then fail to return it. Or a housewife may borrow a vase, a pan or a carpet sweeper and then forget all about it. A youth may borrow a jacket or an umbrella and then fail to return it.
What is behind these poor borrowing habits? Did the borrower intend to keep what he had borrowed? Most likely not, although there are some who borrow simply because they do not want to bear the expense or shoulder the responsibility that possession of a certain article brings with it. Then, is it human weakness? Thoughtlessness? Or is it really a form of selfishness? It surely is a failure to do to others as you would have others do to you. (Luke 6:31) Did you know that failing to return what you borrow puts you in very bad company? It is true, for the inspired psalmist of old, King David, wrote: “The wicked one is borrowing and does not pay back.”—Ps. 37:21.
As a rule, it is best to be reluctant about borrowing, although there may be exceptions if an emergency arises. The Bible gives good counsel in this regard: “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing.” (Rom. 13:8) If it is not an emergency or necessity, then it might be better to do without than to obligate yourself by borrowing. But if you do borrow, show yourself to be a person of good principles.
First of all, there is the matter of from whom you borrow. It should not be just a casual acquaintance; you should have more in common than simply that the person has something you need. In this regard it seems wise to sound a note of caution to Christian witnesses lest they thoughtlessly abuse their Christian friendship in borrowing from their brothers. Especially should they exercise care not to take advantage of newly interested ones.
Then too, take care as to what you borrow. Avoid borrowing something that cannot be replaced, such as a rare or precious object, or something to which the owner attaches a sentimental value.
Further, make sure to return what you have borrowed and do so promptly. If the lender does not stipulate a specific time, then you should, and you should stick to it.
When you want to return something, but find the lender is not at home, what should you do? Do not leave it on his doorstep or in his backyard. Return it when he is at home so that you can personally thank him. Or if you have repeatedly borrowed some item from your neighbor and now want to borrow it again and he is not at home, what do you do? May you help yourself to it? Not unless he specifically stated that you could.
Conscientiousness in returning what you borrow makes for good relations. Aiding you in this regard is a sense of responsibility about what you borrow. Show you appreciate the favor being done by not only returning promptly what you have borrowed but also making sure that it is in the same condition in which you borrowed it, if not in better condition. Perhaps you borrowed some clothes; why not show appreciation by having them washed or dry-cleaned before returning them? If you borrow a tool, make sure it is as clean and as sharp and otherwise in as good or even better shape than when you borrowed it. Are you a housewife that at times borrows sugar, eggs, butter or something else that you inadvertently have run short of because of circumstances? Then show appreciation by not only returning at the first opportunity what you borrowed, but adding a little extra, or some cookies, fruit or sweets, for good measure. You can really strengthen your friendship by returning with interest, as it were, the things you borrow, for such shows appreciation, and people like to do things for those who show appreciation.
Think now: Have you borrowed something and failed to return it? Then, by all means, return it now. Do it today.
The Bible at 2 Kings 6:1-7.