Updated: Aug 9, 2018
Strong as a bear?
Haribo is a global confectionary company, well known to kids and adults for their Gummy Bears. Haribo is founded by Hans Riegel in Bonn. The name comes from Ha(ns), Ri(egel)l and Bo(nn.) According to legend the original company’s capital whe
n started in 1920, included a sack of sugar, a marble slab, a stove and a kettle.
They employ over 7’000 people and have offices in 22 countries. Often compared to Willy Wonka, Riegel who passed away in 2013, lived to make sweets and, during the course of a 67-year-long career, transformed a small family firm into one of the world’s largest confectionary giants.According to an article in MoneyWeek, this very large company never has taken a loan since 1950.It achieved its growth following the principle of paying for everything from savings and not being financed through loans!
In my years of business, I have seen many companies grow without debt. Those people (and also businesses) who survive difficult times are those with no debt. I had the privilege to lead a company in the space services industry. We did a lot of work for the International Space Station. This business was started with no loans but with a pre-payment for a contract from our customer!
The Biblical norm which reflects Gods heart is,
“The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (Deuteronomy 28:12). Although this was given to Israel, God’s blessing on Israel had the purpose of making Israel strong so that they could bless many other nations.
God wants to make us strong as bears, so that we can be a blessing to many. One of the major problems is that individuals, businesses and nations are burdened with debts they cannot repay. In The Netherlands, a rich nation, one out of every six households have problematic debt. In the UK, more than 3 million people have debt they may never clear and for 5 million the debts will take more than a decade to repay.
Debt is a burden, a worry and fuel for depression. It can cause serious breakdowns in relationships. It is not just single mothers with no support, the unemployed or those struggling in low paid jobs. The statistics show the problem occurs over a wide range of income levels.
I remember lying in bed as a 15-year-old listening to my parents arguing in the room next door about bills they couldn’t pay. My dad was unemployed and bought stuff on credit from a mail order firm for the family out of a good heart. Having witnessed what debt can do in a family I vowed never to borrow any money; and I never did, with the exception of a mortgage (which is now paid off).
We can so easily get sucked into a vortex of buying, often with just a few clicks. Advertising is subtly tempting us to, as Will Smith puts it, “to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like!” Spending can become a rush of power and pleasure, mounting in some cases to addiction. Psychologists say that consumer debt is as much about mood as actual need. Credit cards can open a door to easy buying, but this may be an open door to trouble.
The Bible warns about debt, telling us that borrowing can remove our freedom to use our money as we want because creditors have first call on our money.
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”(Proverbs 22:7)
Taking on loans from the bank can stop God providing in His way! I remember when I was leaving a well-paid job in industry to work for a Christian organization. I had to give back my company car and buy another. Our first thought was, “No problem, we can buy a new one and pay for it over 4 years with a car loan.” My wife then said, “remember, you always said you didn’t want to borrow anything!” We prayed and decided to wait on Gods answer. Shortly afterwards, a businessman called me and offered a car he didn’t need any more. It was 10 years old, but a Mercedes! That was my very first Merc! When God provides, He does it in style!
When thinking of taking out a loan; stop, pray and consider if perhaps the Lord wants to provide in another way! I believe Gods promise remains true.
”And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19.)