You shall not steal. (Exodus 2:15)
From the quotation above, we find that Jewish wisdom openly declares that everybody has the right to ownership, since it is only possible for one to steal from another only if the other person owns the object of desire.
The right to own things is not a man made concept, but a divine declaration for humans to observe so we may live in peace together. This is the basis why we need to return what we borrow from another.
The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives. (Psalm 37:21)
Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. (Romans 13:8)
These two quotations will have no basis if not for the ‘right to own’ bestowed by the Creator.
However, when we borrow something, our obligation is not just toward the person whom we borrowed from.
Before we borrow anything, we also need to consider whether our ‘future self’ will have the ability and commitment to return what we desire to borrow. When we borrow from someone else, we are essentially borrowing from ourselves, because it is our ‘future self’ who has the burden of returning what is borrowed by our ‘present self’.
Thus, we have an obligation towards our ‘future self’ when we borrow, because this ‘future self’ has a right to own things. If we borrow without having commitment and building the capacity to return the item in the future, then we are in fact stealing from our future selves and putting this other person (our future self) in debt and lack.
There is little wonder why the Lord’s hope and declaration for ancient Jewish people were that ‘Yahweh shall open for you his rich storehouse, even the heavens, to give the rain for your land in its time and to bless all of the work of your hand, and you will lend to many nations; you will not borrow from them.‘ (Deuteronomy 28:12).
So next time you wish to borrow, consider really carefully lest you steal from yourself. All borrowing is in fact borrowing from oneself.