“ He that is merciful will lend unto his neighbor; and he that strengthens his hand keeps the commandments. Lend to thy neighbor in time of his need, and pay thou thy neighbor again in due season. Keep thy word, and deal faithfully with him, and thou shalt always find the thing that is necessary for thee. Many, when a thing was lent them, reckoned it to be found, and put them to trouble that helped them. Till he hath received, he will kiss a man’s hand; and for his neighbor’s money he will speak submissively: but when he should repay, he will prolong the time, and return words of grief, and complain of the time. If he prevail, he shall hardly receive the half, and he will count as if he had found it: if not, he hath deprived him of his money, and he hath gotten him an enemy without cause: he payeth him with cursing and railings; and for honor he will pay him disgrace. Many therefore have refused to lend for other men’s ill dealing, fearing to be defrauded. Yet have thou patience with a man in poor estate, and delay not to shew him mercy. Help the poor for the commandment’s sake, and turn him not away because of his poverty. Lose thy money for thy brother and thy friend, and let it not rust under a stone to be lost. Lay up thy treasure according to the commandments of the most High, and it shall bring thee more profit than gold. Shut up alms in thy storehouses: and it shall deliver thee from all affliction. It shall fight for thee against thine enemies better than a mighty shield and strong spear.” ~Ecclesiasticus
While Shakespeare advises us to be neither a lender nor a borrower, Ecclesiasticus sees it differently. He says the good person, the merciful person, will help his neighbor and loan him money or goods when he is in need. While being a professional lender is probably not a good profession to be in (it was the profession of Scrooge, after all), lending to friends and neighbors is another thing.
Pay Thy Neighbor
It isn’t really clear, but I think what Ecclesiasticus is saying here is that when we are the ones who borrowed from a neighbor, we should make all effort to pay it back as agreed. If a neighbor loans you money without saying when it should be repaid, then repay it as soon as possible. If you were the one making the loan, you would want it paid back as soon as the neighbor was over his financial difficulty, so you should do the same. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
We also have to be merciful and show some patience when the neighbor is unable to pay back the loan in a timely manner. We should not act like loan sharks after all.
Keep Your Word
Yes, we should keep our word. Not just when borrowing or loaning money, but in all things. An honest person keeps their word. A merciful person keeps their word. You wouldn’t like it if someone else made a promise to you and didn’t keep their word, so you should keep your word.
Lay Up Thy treasure
You might be wondering at this point what this post has to do with being spiritual. We are now getting to that part.
The reason it shouldn’t bother you to loan money, tools, or other material possessions to a friend or neighbor is that such things are relatively unimportant. Compared to your immortal spirit and soul, such temporary comforts are meaningless. No one would be foolish enough to cling to a roll of pennies when he sees a chest full of gold coins sitting in front of him. Yet that is what you do when you cling to matter and ignore your spiritual faculties. There is nothing wrong with having and enjoying creature comforts—up to a point. But when you become so attached to the material that you won’t loan money to a friend in need, even though you have a surplus, or you won’t abandon your house when a fire is heading for it, you have become too attached. Those attachments become obstacles to spiritual growth. They become tools that the demons who whisper to you can use to turn you away from the spiritual. So enjoy the material world as you might enjoy a fun movie. Don’t cling to it, don’t get attached to anything in it. The smart merciful person shows the most mercy to his own spirit and soul that struggle to function when trapped in the realm of matter. Be merciful and awaken those faculties. Help them grow and develop into high states of consciousness. Then you will truly understand that the real treasure in life is your immortal spirit and soul.