“And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.”
Before the wealthy Jews were ever chastised in the book of Nehemiah, the LORD told them repeatedly (Exo 22:25, Lev 25:35-37, Deut 23:19-20) it was never in His will for them to charge their brothers usury—which was basically interest. Usury is anything added on to a debt. Too often the mistake is made today of “believing God” for such ridiculous things as supernatural debt cancellation (when we refuse to become good stewards of what He has already given us) based on the above referenced scriptures, but this is not what He intended or even considered.
A New Testament similarity can be seen in the famous “Our Father” prayer that was prayed by our Savior Himself. In Matthew 6:12 we are told to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” We had a debt to the perfect Father. The payment was our blood. But praise be to God, that the minute we accepted Christ as our Personal Savior, our debt was forgiven. It is paid. It is finished. The debt is gone.
We have the command, not a request or a plea or a wish, but a command from the Forgiver of our debts to do the same. So when believers are wronged, we are not to require “usury”. We have no right to make another person beg or plead for our forgiveness or try to require something extra. We are commanded to let it go. But if the believer chooses to require usury; Neh 5:13 speaks to that person: “…thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.” Jesus also has a word for the person who requires usury in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
When believers require interest before forgiveness, the LORD will deal with them all by himself. Let us see how it will work out for them.