The Bible is clear that we should be willing to lend and share, if we are able, with those in need. “A good man deals graciously and lends” (Psalm 112:5). “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Matthew 5:42). “(Those who are rich) Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share… that they may lay hold on eternal life” (2 Timothy 6:18-19). There are qualifications to these work. One has a duty to first provide for his own family (Matthew 15:3-6; 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16). Next, one is to give priority to helping Christian brethren who are in need (Galatians 6:10). Then, others should be helped as we have opportunity (and ability). Moreover, one should not enable bad behavior (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
But, what about the borrower? Does he have a responsibility? I do believe that he does, and such is the focus of this writing.
Have you ever loaned something to someone, only to be disappointed at the condition of the item when it was returned? Have you ever borrowed something from someone, and had it break or be damaged, while it was in your possession? What does the Bible say about this? Consider from the Old Testament: (1) “The wicked borrows and does not repay” (Psalm 37:21). We should return what we borrow. (2) “If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good” (Exodus 22:14). One should try to replace, repair, or pay damage to the lender. (3) “When they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, Master! For it was borrowed.” (2 Kings 6:4-5). This is what one of the “sons of the prophets” said to Elisha. He was greatly concerned, not simply for the loss of the ax head, but because it was borrowed. Elisha miraculous caused the iron to float, and it was retrieved (2 Kings 6:6-7). The righteous take their responsibility to care for borrowed items seriously. True, these are Old Testament passages, but does God expect less care for others property today?
Consider the word of John and the New Testament: (1) “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). (2) “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). (3) “Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). (4) “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). True, these passages are not specifically addressing the borrowing issue, but is there not an application?
I have seen many problems develop between brethren over borrowed items. I have seen friendships damaged over such. Many problems could be avoided if the above passages were considered.