Oklahoman Published: August 30, 2012

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I'm about to lose my business because people won't pay me what they owe. Isn't it wrong for them to do this? They claim they'll repay me when I ask them, but most never do. Maybe I ought to stop giving them credit, but I hate to lose them as customers.


DEAR M.McM.: I can't give you advice about business matters, of course, but I do understand human nature, and you need to be cautious about people taking advantage of you. Most people won't, but some will if they think they won't have to repay you. Do you really need them as customers?

Is it wrong to refuse to repay a debt you owe someone (whether it's an individual or a company)? Yes, of course it is. You have taken money from them, and if you keep it, in reality you have stolen it from them. The Bible is clear about this and similar matters: “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another” (Leviticus 19:11). I realize situations may arise that make it impossible for someone to repay, but when we can repay a debt, we have an obligation to do so.

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