On the Danger of Debt and Surety

George Müller

How precious it is, even for this life, to act according to the word of God! This perfect revelation of His mind gives us directions for everything, even the most minute affairs of this life. It commands us,

"Be thou not one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts."
(Prov. xxii.26.)

The way in which Satan ensnares persons, to bring them into the net, and to bring trouble upon them by becoming sureties, is, that he seeks to represent the matter as if there were no danger connected with that particular case, and that one might be sure one should never be called upon to pay the money; but the Lord, the faithful Friend, tells us in His own word that the only way in such a matter "to be sure" is "to hate suretyship." (Prov. xi.15.) The following points seem to me of solemn moment for consideration, if I were called upon to become surety for another: 

1. What obliges the person, who wishes me to become surety for him, to need a surety? Is it really a good cause in which I am called upon to become surety? I do not remember ever to have met with a case in which in a plain, and godly, and in all respects scriptural matter such a thing occurred. There was generally some sin or other connected with it.

2. If I become surety, notwithstanding what the Lord has said to me in His word, am I in such a position that no one will be injured by my being called upon to fulfil the engagements of the person for whom I am going to be surety? In most instances this alone ought to keep one from it.

3. If still I become surety, the amount of money for which I become responsible must be so in my power that I am able to produce it whenever it is called for in order that the name of the Lord may not be dishonoured.

4. But if there be the possibility of having to fulfil the engagements of the person in whose stead I have to stand, is it the will of the Lord that I should spend my means in that way? Is it not rather His will that my means should be spent in another way?

5. How can I get over the plain word of the Lord, which is to the contrary, if the first four points could be satisfactorily settled?