Serpents, doves and real life

by Barry Newton

How would you like to make a payment at the beginning of the month, but continue to be charged interest on what you paid until the end of the month? This might not be hypothetical for you.

If you desired to pay down your mortgage premium as quick as possible by designating your mortgage payment be broken up into multiple payments throughout the month, you might be in for a surprise. It might be none of those payments, even though the mortgage company knows the payment schedule, are actually applied to your principle until the end of the month.

Your surprise might sit you down really hard, if you also indicated to your mortgage company that you would like to make an additional premium-only payment on top of each of these automated payments.

Common sense thinking would be that if they know automated additional premium-only payments are being made throughout the month, then those amounts ought to be applied directly to the premium on the day it is paid. Right? Apparently wrong.

As it turns out, at least some companies will collect all such automated additional premium payments throughout the month but only apply your cash against the premium at the end of the month. What’s the big deal?

In practical terms, what this means is that you give them your money in order to pay a portion of your premium. However, for the remainder of the month they continue to charge you interest on the money you gave them. It gets better! They then can use your money interest free, since they are not paying you anything for holding it, while at the same time charging you interest on it! Incredible eh?

As some people would say, this is real life. Jesus’s teachings shape the disciple’s engagement with real life.

For starters, Jesus taught, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). I really don’t think anyone would want to continue to pay interest throughout the remainder of the month on a payment he or she has already made. Accordingly, a disciple in business would not employ such tactics against others.

Jesus also taught those who would desire to follow him, “Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). How might this apply to mortgage payments?

Well, it appears that Jesus encourages his followers to scrutinize their dealings and pay attention to the details. At the same time, they are not on a mission or some sort of warpath to harm others. So, if a disciple desires to make early premium payments, he or she might choose to do this with a bank teller, since such premium-only payments are credited against the premium the day they are made.

Whenever people treat us in less than desirable ways, the flesh wants to retaliate. Jesus instructs his disciples to take the high road.

To me it sounds like those following Jesus should make great citizens! We just need to make sure that we defang the dove.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They have two boys attending university.

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