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Debt and Financial Wisdom

man holding empty wallet

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV)

Debt is a trap. It seems like a tool to have what we want now and pay for it later. But it is a trap. Debt and financial wisdom calls for us to avoid it. Wisdom calls for us to live within our means.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7 NIV)

Debt enslaves. Debt obligates the borrower to payments that pinch and causes the item being purchased to cost more than it has to because of interest. And debt is the American way.

Ours is the most debt-ridden generation in history. The average US family owes $8,000 just in credit card debt, not including mortgages and car payments. Since some do not incur credit card debt and others pay off credit cards each month to avoid interest (a wise practice if one uses a credit card), many have credit card debt that is much higher than that. Studies indicate the number one cause of tension and stress in marriage is finances. Unpaid bills. Debt that keeps one up at night and causes resentment when one spouse keeps buying and the other handles the money.

Scripture has a lot to say about handling money and wealth. Jesus calls His followers to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Paul says it well in 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Notice Paul does not say money is the problem. Money is a commodity. It is a tool to use to provide for our families and to bless other people. It is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. When it comes to God’s wisdom on money, as in all other things, the issue is the heart. Paul’s tragic statement is that some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and found grief. Let’s get this. God advises in Scripture that mishandling money leads to grief. It leads to enslavement. It can cause one to wander from the faith, and begin to love money more than we love Jesus. There is much grief in that.

So what is God’s solution? Paul states that, too, in 1 Timothy 6:6-8:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

The antidote for the enslavement and grief of mishandling money and living in debt is Godliness and contentment. Being content with what we already have is a heart issue. It is directly related to being content with God and allowing Him to bless us as He chooses so we may be a blessing to others – first to our family and then to those who suffer need. As God blesses us with more, we will have more available to be a greater blessing.

People who love Jesus and follow His plan and example find this: living within our means is wise. It leads to long-term savings that builds wealth slowly over time. One may not have all the glitz and toys of those who spend every dollar and go into debt, but one can sleep at night. There is financial peace in following God’s wisdom in handling money! And in the long run, God is enough. There it is. If God is not enough, then we are living in idolatry of the things money can buy, and that is peril to our soul.

And here is the other thing Godly people have found. God blesses. He blesses His people so we may be a great blessing to others. When our heart is right, great blessings can flow to our lives in order to flow through our lives to bless others. And that also brings great contentment and joy. What a joy it is to be a blessing to others. And we are most free to bless when we have learned to be content and live within our means.

If God is speaking to you by His Spirit about the debt you have already incurred, there is hope. Take this one, simple step toward financial freedom: find a Financial Peace University class nearby, enroll, and begin to work the baby steps that lead to financial freedom. In a year or two, you can be out of debt and working toward financial freedom and peace. If you live near Lafayette, Indiana, then Gathering Point Church will offer FPU, beginning the week of October 9. Day and time will be determined by the availability of those who sign up. You can do this! God can help. We invite you to take the first step…


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