The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
I was talking with a friend and was relating an experience I have had more than once with people who turned out to be revilers/abusers parading as Christians. My friend referred me to something that Gavin DeBecker wrote in his book, The Gift of Fear:
May I note two observations that I took from your scenario? 1) The handyman initiated the contact and offered his assistance. DeBecker in his book, The Gift of Fear, would call this tactic — Loan Sharking. He explains that some men know that if they help you that will “place you in their debt, and the fact that you owe a person something makes it hard to ask him to leave you alone.”
I cannot tell you how vital this is for ALL of us to get a firm grip on. Our local churches almost always have these kinds of loan sharks circling about in their pews and quite often these sharks have become “pillars” of the church they are in. You know the drill. The most “godly saint” in the whole church. The go-to guy whenever there is a need. “Just look over there at the church building most anytime and there will be good old (insert name of shark here) working away for the Lord.”
And this is how it works.
Just as DeBecker says, many sociopaths, abusers, and wicked people know innately that they can enhance their control of people if they can get those people into their debt. They can also use this tactic to prevent anyone from confronting them – “Oh boy! We can’t accuse Jack of abusing his wife. Why, look at all the fine service for the Lord he has done here.”
In EVERY church I have served as pastor (four of them in 37 years) one or two loan sharks were well entrenched when I arrived. Someone once said to new pastors “Watch out for the guy who picks you up at the airport when you first arrive in town.” That person was right. In every single case in these scenarios the “most godly servant of the Lord we have ever known” turned out to be a loan shark. All of their “service” was designed with one thing in mind – control and power. They wanted people to be in their debt, especially the pastor. “Anything you need, pastor, just give me a call. I’m always glad to help.”
Many of you will connect with this because your abuser used the same tactic. Abuse victims tell us with some regularity that their abuser was “always ready to help” others. He wouldn’t lift a hand to help his wife at home, but watch him go when he spotted a chance to “help” others and thereby get them into his debt. That debt may be nothing more than simply giving him praise and being duped into disbelieving any possibility that the abuse his wife might report one day could be true.
Let’s call the worst loan shark I have ever known, GW (stands for Great White).
GW lived to present himself to the world as the finest example of sainthood and humility ever given to this world by the Lord. And he was largely successful. “Hey, do you know GW?” “You bet! What a fine, Christian man!”
The first few times GW offered his help, I got one of those unsettled gut feelings that tells us “something is wrong here.” I of course thought that it was simply a matter of GW’s personality quirk. “He’s just a Christian brother with a couple of abnormalities, but his heart is in the right place.” But then, on multiple occasions, I observed GW blow a bit of a gasket. I mean, he was angry and that anger was completely out of place and unexpected. It flared up when the person GW had “helped” offered to give GW a gift or do something in return to thank him for his assistance. Normal reaction? “No, no that is not necessary. I am glad to help.” GW’s reaction – “NO! NO! You will cause me to lose my reward with the Lord!!!” Spoken heatedly in anger. Now, that is not simply just plain weird. It is just plain evil and I will tell you why.
GW blew a fuse and used his anger to punish the one offering the gift because GW’s strategy of putting that person in debt so as to control them was being short-circuited. This really ticked him off, though he was able to throw in a Bible concept, use it to punish and demean the one offering a gift, and thereby remain “saintly.”
I understand now what GW was doing. But I will never comprehend it. What I mean is, I simply cannot comprehend the depth of wickedness in people like this. Nor can I fathom how that evil so fully and completely defines who such a person is that they can craft these schemes from the pit without even breaking a sweat.
Water is wet. Heat is hot. Abusers abuse. It is what they do. It is who they are.