1My son, if you make a guarantee for your neighbor, clasp your hands in agreement with a stranger, 2you will be trapped by the speech of your mouth; you will be captured by the speech of your mouth. 3Then do this, my son, and extricate yourself. For you have come into the grasp of your neighbor. Go, humble yourself, and press your neighbor. 4Don’t give sleep to your eyes or slumber to your pupils. 5 Extricate yourself like a gazelle from his hand, like a bird from the hand of a fowler. (Longman)
This passage is a blaring siren alerting us to the dangers of making guarantees for others. I hope we heed the warning! However, this is also a general caution light about getting into all kinds of debt that holds us in bondage. Our future health in relationships and effectiveness in leadership is at stake!
When I reflect on this passage, God gives me a fresh awareness of a weakness I battle often. I make guarantees for others, but not like you are probably thinking. My guarantees in relationships are not usually financial. They are emotional and spiritual. I take responsibility for the growth, feelings and well-being of others. This is sinful. The King tells his sons not to do this! We should love others, but not take responsibility for their being and doing. We are to grow in Christ, mature emotionally and spiritually, and become the healthiest servants of Christ possible. We should model this life for others and give them opportunities to grow, but we cannot take responsibility for their progress. What a lesson I must learn! I must “press” and “not let sleep come to my eyes” until I get out of these emotional debts!
At the same time, I cannot escape the challenge to look at my financial situation critically. Did you know Jesus spoke about money more than any other physical issue? To motivate me further, a paramount need of wives is financial security. Many church planting couples quit way too soon because of financial pressure. How is my financial situation affecting the love of my life? My personal stress? My ability to faithfully serve Christ and lead?
This is all about making decisions that are best for us, our families and, ministry leadership for the long-haul. How about you? From what debt do you need to extricate yourself? Will you commit to getting it done, no matter how long it takes? It honors God, blesses our wives, and gives us healthy futures in ministry leadership. Let’s do it!