Contrary to the belief of many, this phrase (and the concept) is not found in Scripture. This is similar to the often misquoted verse “money is the root of all evil,” which actually says, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
What Does Scripture Say About Borrowing and Lending?
Perhaps the idea of not being a borrower or a lender comes from the book of Jeremiah where we read, “Then I said, ‘What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay—yet they all curse me’” (Jeremiah 15:10 NLT). But notice this is a personal testimony and does not condemn either proper borrowing or proper lending.
The Negative ~ Scripture does clearly condemn taking advantage of others through power or position including charging excessive interest or refusing to pay what is owed. Consider one of several passages, “In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interestand make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 22:12).
The Positive ~ Jesus Christ Himself clearly approves of borrowing and lending and appropriate interest as He taught in His parable about money. “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest’” (Matthew 25:26-27, parallel passage in Luke 19:23-24).
summary: Borrowing and lending are not intrinsically wrong. But like many things, the improper use of these tools can be sinful.