13You deserve to lose your coat
if you loan it to someone
to guarantee payment
for the debt of a stranger.
If you were in charge of a bank loan department would you loan money to someone to start a restaurant? There is a belief that 90% of restaurant start-ups fail, but apparently this is an urban myth for a study conducted by Cornell University demonstrated that in fact only 26.16% of restaurant start-ups fail in the first year. If you are in charge of lending you should have criteria that are better than urban myths. Well, how about character and collateral? The Wise Man of Proverbs would congratulate you, for you are now asking, “How are you going to back up this venture,” and, “how do I know you will deliver what you say you will deliver?”
“Stranger” and “outsider” in this proverb represent high-risk people, high-risk because you don’t know them, know their history, their strengths and weaknesses; you are not in any kind of relationship. You might in the end give them the loan, but make sure that you take and keep proper security. Wisdom demands it.
So, not being in relationship with someone does not necessarily create a “no-go” situation, but on the other hand, being in relationship is not in and of itself enough to create a “go” situation.
There are people whom you do know well and you know you should be wary of them. You have watched them act in foolish ways, heard them promise much but deliver little. People whose promises are backed up with charisma, bullying, and manipulation are people you cannot and should not trust – not ever. Wisely avoid such people, don’t enter into business arrangements with them, don’t vote for them to govern your city or country, or allow them to enter into church leadership, for they are neither wise nor prudent and ruin will inevitably come to everything they touch.
Holy Spirit, give me wisdom today as I encounter people. When trust is called for let me be trusting, and when caution is called for let me be graciously cautious so that I might be like Jesus, always being kind, but without naiveté.