Proverbs 22:27, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
It hit us like a ton of bricks. I was entering the last semester of my master’s program, working a secular job, and serving at my church when we realized that we needed to do something about our finances.
To most people the way we were living our lives was not that bad. We do not own credit cards and all of our cars are paid off. By God’s grace we were paying our bills every month and for the most part were not worried about making next month’s bills either. Even though life looked good we realized that we could not do all that God had called us to because we had a problem. It was actually a $50,000 problem named Sallie Mae.
As we looked at this monstrous amount of debt we discovered a few realities about debt:
- Living in debt is living in bondage. Proverbs 22:27 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave of the lender.” As followers of Christ we are called to only be subjects of him—not a bank. Free yourself from the burden and do not accumulate debt.
- Living in debt means you cannot do everything that God had called you to do. Imagine if the Lord called you to a church that could not pay you as much as you make now. Would you really tell God no? Or maybe the Lord has called you to serve with the International Mission Board, but you have an abundance of debt. If you have excessive debt, you are immediately disqualified from serving with the IMB. Do not allow debt to hinder you from following the Lord.
- Living in debt limits your family. Imagine all the things that you could do for your family and your children if you did not have debt. Debt may be holding you back from properly taking care of your family.
- Living in debt means you cannot give generously. If you are in debt the money that God has blessed you with is already postmarked with another’s name on it. What if you could take the money that you are paying to the credit card company and use it for the kingdom of God?
Nowhere in Scripture does God speak of monetary debt being a good thing. God longs for you to have an abundant life. Part of an abundant life is being free from the bondages of hopelessness and guilt so that you can follow the Lord wherever he leads you. Unfortunately, debt leaves you feeling hopeless and guilty. This is exactly what happened to me and my wife. I felt guilty for signing my name to a loan that I could not afford. I felt guilty for not being able to give to help others because I could barely help myself. I felt hopeless because I did not make enough money to pay off this debt. So we decided to do something about it.
In the book, Navigating Your Finances God’s Way, Howard Dayton suggests a few ways to get out of debt:
- Pray. You may think that you have created a God-sized hole so why not ask God to help you fill it back in?
- Make a Budget. You may think that you do not spend money carelessly until you write it down. When you see how much money you spend on extra books or how often you stop for coffee breaks you will soon realize where all your money is going.
- Earn more income. Maybe it is time to pick up a second job.
- Spend less by becoming content with what you have. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones. Most of the time they are just as broke as you are.
- Consider a radical change in lifestyle. Christian financial expert Dave Ramsey always says, “If you live like no one else, later you can live and give like no one else.” Could it be time to quit eating out and cut the cable?
- Sell what you are not using. For us it was a car, but I am sure you can find a thing or two to sell so that you can be free from the weight of debt quicker.
My wife and I are still not quite debt free but in six months we paid down a lot of what was owed. It is amazing to see how God has provided for us in the midst of our faithfulness and it is even better to see how he has strengthened our relationship in the process.
As followers of Christ we must realize that debt is dumb and is not a tool to be used for our gain, but a tool used by the enemy to make followers of Christ slaves to something other than Christ Jesus. Avoid debt at all cost.
NOBTS students: Did you know that there was a resource on campus that helps you with how to handle financial decisions? The Program for Research, Education, and Planning (PREP) is designed to help students develop positive financial habits. For further information about their services and weekly Compass classes please visit them at http://www.nobts.edu/prep/default.html or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org