*

作保的難題

THE CO-SIGNING CONUNDRUM

(2022/06/20)

在經濟動盪的時候,我們都有朋友或親戚會有需要。我們想要盡己所能的提供幫助,最簡單的,可能就是給他們一些錢。比方說,一張能在雜貨店消費的現金卡或者是幫忙支付水電費,這對現金短缺的人來說是一個很大的解脫。而耶穌說:「施比受更為有福」(使徒行傳 20章35節)這節經文的一個提醒是,接受者可能不像送禮者那樣對禮物感到興奮,所以建議你在回應需要時,應該謹慎。

在使徒行傳4章32-35節中,談到初代的教會,那裡的第一批基督徒非常關心彼此。如果一個人或家庭有需要,其他人可能會出售一些東西來幫助他們。聖經說這筆錢是「放在使徒腳前」的,給人的感覺是某種可以用在任何有需要的人身上,而可自行斟酌使用的捐贈。今天許多教會都有類似的制度。

我們可能認為借錢是個好主意,而銀行其實應該才是用來借款的,但我們的朋友也許已經用盡了這項可能。如果我們向朋友或親戚提供個人貸款,我們就像是一家小型銀行。那麼我們也需要做銀行應該做的事,比如,有一份貸款文件,詳細說明金額、利息和還款時間表,以及違約的後果..等。

因為這是一項商業交易,所以即使面對朋友或家人,我們也應該堅持如何處理此種交易。或者我們也可以把它當成禮物,附有債務免除的條款。貸款協議可能規定,如果發生某些事情 - 比如失業、完成大學學位或其他形式的激勵方案,參與者都可以免除這項債務,完全轉變成為禮物。

最糟糕的「幫助」形式是為人作保。聖經箴言書的古老智慧,將為人作保,比喻成踏入陷阱的鳥,警告它潛在的危險性:「我兒,你若為朋友作保,替外人擊掌,你就被口中的話語纏住,我兒,你既落在朋友手中,就當這樣行才可救自己:你要自卑,去懇求你的朋友。不要容你的眼睛睡覺;不要容你的眼皮打盹。要救自己,如鹿脫離獵戶的手,如鳥脫離捕鳥人的手。」(箴言6章1-5節)

正如聖經所說,如果我們不明智地為人作保,我們應該盡快脫離。 百分之四十為朋友作保的人,他們最後將會失去金錢;更糟糕的是,百分之三十的人會發現,作保反而會破壞關係。正如另一句箴言所警告的:「為外人作保的,必受虧損;恨惡擊掌的,卻得安穩。」(箴言 11章15節)

多年前,我父親為一位親戚的汽車貸款做保人。最後親戚違約了,汽車也被收回。但我父親因為他共同簽了這張票據,因此他的信用也產生違約和無力償還被收回的記錄。這使他在幾年後,更難向銀行申請房屋抵押貸款。如果我父親,當時選擇,不讓他的名字出現在合約上,成為共同借款人,他應該可能擁有這輛車,當有需要時賣掉它以償還貸款,就可保有他的信用評級。


如果我們的朋友或家人需要幫助,我們應該用不會讓他們難堪的方式來幫助他們。我們可以貸款給他們,但前提是我們自己不需要這筆錢。正如聖經所建議的那樣,永遠不要為人作保,為人作保是沒有好處的。我們可以慷慨大方,尋找創造性和實質性的方式來鼓勵、支持和振奮我們的朋友或親戚,也同時保護人際關係和我們自己的財務未來。

©2022 Jim Mathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

備註:如果你手上有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的內容,請參考以下的經文:
箴言3章27-28節
3:27你手若有行善的力量,不可推辭,就當向那應得的人施行。
3:28你那裏若有現成的,不可對鄰舍說:去吧,明天再來,我必給你。
箴言17章18節
17:18在鄰舍面前擊掌作保乃是無知的人。
箴言20章16節
20:16誰為生人作保,就拿誰的衣服;誰為外人作保,誰就要承當。
箴言22章26-27節
22:26 不要與人擊掌,不要為欠債的作保。
22:27你若沒有甚麼償還,何必使人奪去你睡臥的床呢?
馬可福音12章30-31節
12:30 你要盡心、盡性、盡意、盡力愛主-你的上帝。』
12:31 其次就是說:『要愛人如己。 』再沒有比這兩條誡命更大的了。」
加拉太書6章9-10節
6:9 我們行善,不可喪志;若不灰心,到了時候就要收成。
6:10 所以,有了機會就當向眾人行善,向信徒一家的人更當這樣。

反省與問題討論
第一、你請求過別人幫你作保嗎?如果有,結果是如何?
第二、另一方面,你是否曾經同意幫別人的貸款作保?那又是怎樣的經驗?在貸款有法律規範期間,它是否讓你與朋友的關係緊張或產生壓力?
第三、你是否同意為某人(尤其是朋友或家人)的貸款作保是錯誤的?為什麼?為他人的財務義務承擔責任,有任何的好處嗎?
四、為什麼你認為幫助有需要的人可以用其他方式,例如直接的禮物、有還款約定的個人貸款,或甚至是提供有償債獎勵的貸款,都比為別人作保,以獲得金融機構的貸款更好呢?當你評估選擇的可能性時,哪些聖經原則可以引導你思考?

 

MONDAY MANNA
June 20, 2022

 

THE CO-SIGNING CONUNDRUM
By Jim Mathis

 

In difficult economic times, many of us have friends or relatives in need. We want to do whatever we can to help. The easy thing may be to just give them some money. A gift card to the grocery store or paying a utility bill can be a big relief for somebody short on cash. But Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35) One application of this admonition is that the receiver might not be as excited about the gift as you are as the giver – so caution is advised as you respond.

Acts 4:32-35 talks about the early Church, where the first Christians cared deeply about one another. If a person or family had a need, somebody else might sell something to help them out. The Bible says the money was “laid at the apostle’s feet,” suggesting some sort of discretionary benevolence fund that could be used by anyone in need. Many churches today have a similar system in place.

We might think loaning money is a good idea, but banks are in the business of making loans – and our friend may have already exhausted that possibility. If we make a personal loan to a friend or relative, we are acting as a small bank. We need to do the things a bank would do, such as having a loan document spelling out the amount, interest, and repayment schedule, as well as the consequences of a default.

This is a business transaction, so even if dealing with a friend or family member, we should be firm in how we handle the transaction. We also might want to consider this as a gift, with a debt forgiveness clause. For example, the loan agreement might say the debt will be cancelled if certain things occur – such as losing a job, finishing a college degree, or some other form of incentive of benefit to everyone involved.

The worst form of “help” is to co-sign a note. Ancient wisdom from the Bible’s book of Proverbs compares co-signing a note to a bird caught in a snare, warning of its potential dangers: “My son, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger – if you have trapped yourself by your agreement…swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased…. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net” (Proverbs 6:1-5)

As it says, if we have unwisely co-signed for someone else’s debt, we should free ourselves as quickly as we can. Forty percent of people who co-sign for a friend end up costing themselves money; even worse, 30 percent find it has damaged the relationship. As another proverb warns, “He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe” (Proverbs 11:15).

Years ago, my dad co-signed an automobile loan for a relative. The relative defaulted on the loan and the car was repossessed. This showed up as a default and repossession on my dad’s credit because he had co-signed the note. This made it more difficult for him to get a home mortgage a few years later. If he had chosen instead to be a co-borrower, with his name also on the title, my father could have claimed the car and sold it to pay off the loan and preserved his credit rating.

If we have friends or family members in need, our desire to make an honorable difference should be done in ways that will not embarrass them. We can give them a loan, but only if the money is not needed for our own financial obligations. As the Scriptures advise, never co-sign a loan. There is no upside to co-signing. We can be generous, finding creative and substantial ways to encourage, support and lift up our friends or relatives, while protecting relationships and our own financial future.

© 2022. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City,U.S.A.

CBMC INTERNATIONAL:  Jim Firnstahl, President
2850 N. Swan Road, Suite 160Tucson, Arizona 85712 ▪ U.S.A.
TEL.: 520-334-1114 ▪ E-MAIL: mmanna@cbmcint.org
Web site: www.cbmcint.org  Please direct any requests or change of address to: jmarple@cbmcint.org

Reflection/Discussion Questions

 

1.Have you ever had someone co-sign a loan for you? If so, how did that work out?


2.On the other hand, have you ever agreed to co-sign for someone else’s loan? What was that experience like? While the loan was in force, did it create any tensions or stress on your relationship with them?


 
3.Do you agree with the conclusion that it is wrong to co-sign a loan for someone, especially a friend or family member? Why or why not? What are the possible benefits – if any – of taking on the responsibility, potentially, for someone else’s financial obligations?



 
4.Why do you think other ways for helping someone in need – such as an outright gift, a personal loan with repayment stipulations, or even a loan with a debt payment incentive – are preferable to co-signing for a loan someone is taking through a financial institution? What biblical principles might guide your thinking as you evaluate possible options?




NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Proverbs 3:27-28, 17:18, 20:16, 22:26-27; Mark 12:30-31; Galatians 6:9-10