It may seem sensible or loving to cosign a loan for another person, but it puts you at high risk. You are responsible for the actions of someone you cannot control, and you could very well find yourself taking the loss when he acts irresponsibly or has bad luck.
Proverbs 6:1 TLV
My son, if you have become a cosigner for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands in pledge with a stranger,
The first five verses are a warning against becoming a cosigner, that is, making oneself liable for someone else’s debt in case that person is unable to pay.
- Suppose your friend wants to buy a car on the installment plan but doesn’t have much of a credit rating. The loan company demands the signature of someone who can pay in case the borrower defaults.
- The neighbor comes to you and asks you to cosign the note with him. So this means that you will pay if he doesn’t.
Proverbs 6:2 TLV
If you are trapped by your own words, ensnared by the words of your mouth,
In other words, if you have made a rash promise, you have fallen into a trap. It was a great mistake.
Proverbs 6:3 TLV
Then do this, my son, and free yourself, since you fell into your neighbor’s hand: Go, humble yourself, plead with your neighbor!
Now the best thing to do is to get you released from the agreement. Try to persuade your friend to get your signature removed from the loan you have been trapped into signing.
Proverbs 6:4-5 TLV
Allow no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Escape like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
The matter is of such importance that you shouldn’t rest until you are released from this liability. You should squirm free like a gazelle from its captor, or like a bird from…the fowler.
But why does the Bible warn against cosigning so sternly? Isn’t it a kindness to do this for a friend or neighbor? It might seem to be a kindness, but it might not be at all.
- You might be helping your friend to buy something, which it is, not God’s will for your friend to have.
- You might be encouraging your friend to be a spendthrift or even a gambler.
- If your friend defaults and you have to pay for something that is not your own, friendship will end and bitterness begins.
It would be better to give money outright if there were a legitimate need. In any case, you should not become surety (security) for your friend.
These verses are not a plea against generosity but against overextending one’s financial resources and acting in irresponsible ways that could lead to poverty.
Maintaining a balance between kindness and good stewardship is essential. God wants us to help our friends and the needy, but he does not promise to cover the costs of every unwise commitment we make. We should also act responsibly so that our families do not suffer.
Have you ever co-signed for a friend and then regretted your decision? Please leave your comments below.