To borrow something is to make a commitment. Inherent in borrowing is a promise to return the object to the owner in good condition.
In the law of Moses, the Lord decreed that if someone borrowed an animal, “and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he [the borrower] shall surely make it good” (Exodus 22:14).
King David taught that our behavior when we borrow something is a sign of our character:
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.Psalm 37:21
And King Benjamin emphasized to his people the duty a borrower owes to the lender:
I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.Mosiah 4:28
When thousands of church members were encamped beside the Missouri River, preparing to continue their journey westward, Brigham Young received a revelation explaining the behavior expected of them during their migration. Here is one of those expectations:
If thou borrowest of thy neighbor, thou shalt restore that which thou hast borrowed; and if thou canst not repay then go straightway and tell thy neighbor, lest he condemn thee.Doctrine and Covenants 136:25
None of us is perfect. It is possible for things that we borrow to be damaged or lost. The important question is how we behave when that happens. Do we delay and prevaricate, hoping that the problem will go away or be forgotten? Or do we quickly convey the bad news to the owner and do our best to make it right? As the scripture passages above indicate, our integrity and our relationship with the owner depend on us doing the difficult thing: telling the truth and compensating the owner to the degree we can.
Today, I will renew my commitment to be a dependable borrower. When I borrow something, I will return it according to the agreement and the expectations of the owner. If I can’t meet those expectations, I will inform the owner promptly, remembering that my relationship with him or her is more important than any borrowed object.