Originally, usury meant 'The lending of money with an interest charge.' Later it meant, 'The lending of money at exorbitant interest rates' (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). By God's Law, the children of Israel could not profit from the misfortune of their brethren--nor excessively profit from the misfortune of anyone else.
'The thing forbidden is a harsh, grasping... disposition to take advantage of the embarrassments of others to increase our own gains' (Barnes Notes on the Bible). Because Jesus says, 'Love one another as I have loved you' (John 15:12)--that we should 'Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us' (Ephesians 5:2).
Surely, exceeding abundance is what He gave to us--and not what He kept for Himself.
Consider: In Bible times, the word 'talent' meant money or wealth. I believe talent means the same thing today. Our top entertainers are extraordinarily wealthy. But are their profits out of proportion to the lending of their talents? Could this benefit of stardom be called usury?
The world would laugh at this comparison. The world would say the law of supply and demand determines profit. Maybe like two guys in a truck charging $20 for a bag of ice after a hurricane... Or 20,000 payday loan shops charging a 400% APR.*
Do celebrities profit exorbitantly from their fans? Are their fans like sheep without a shepherd? Gazers without a Guide? Dreamers without a Destination? Do they spend billions of dollars they do not have... following stars they do not know... searching for a joy they cannot find?
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Don't buy into Hollywood's lending system. Your bank is elsewhere.
Even more, the talents you possess are not your own. They are His (as in belonging to your Boss), and you are their steward. Yes, He commands you to multiply them, but not for your own profit--nor for your own glory. But only for His, and consequently, for theirs (as in your fans).
'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me' (Matthew 25:40).
To Be Continued...
* Article on payday lending: http://www.responsiblelending.org/allies/faith-and-credit/Modern-Day-Usury-The-Payday-Loan-Trap.pdf
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Twelve Steps To Heaven series.