Is Debt Wrong? Part 2
The bible grants permission for believers to lend and borrow, but it brings the usage of debt to a much finer point than most of us understand.
Compiling the many Scriptures on the subject, we see in Prosperous Home that debt should not be used for daily living or consumption, that we should not charge interest among ourselves, and that we should not enslave ourselves to lenders by carrying ponderous amounts of borrowing. Beyond these things, there is little specific guidance on borrowing and lending (apart from quite a bit of info about usury and how we should treat the poor, which is for another day). The remaining questions will always remain a heart issue. Knowing this, try these 3 questions when you're considering taking on debt…
What is ON my heart? That is, what are all the financial factors in my life? What’s going on in life? This list could include job status, tuition, bills, Christmas, kids, vacations, hobbies, and even some unknowns. Let God lead you. Armed with that info, now…
What is IN my heart? This is the motivation-finding aspect. What’s driving my desire for this thing? A need? A fear? A desire? Pride or anger? Joy or generosity? And lastly...
God, what is YOUR heart for this debt? What do YOU think about it? Is this your best plan for my life?
I challenge you to do this exercise no matter how small or big the debt. The reason we must always be this deliberate is because spending and debt have become too commonplace in our society, which makes it difficult for us to see the issue, or the bondage.
Just in the last 2 decades, we've been granted more immediate access to stuff than the previous five thousand combined. The smartphone has only been around for a decade. When I went to high school, the internet was barely a thing. And now look at us. You only have to watch one interview with Robot Sophia to realize that we’re facing new technology very soon that will continue to change how we want to spend our money. We do love our stuff. The culture is saturated with consumerism more than ever. Dramatic shifts have been made away from Christendom that support this ubiquitous way of life. Our nation is now being described as pluralist, secular, and post-Christian. The church's waining influence, combined with the nonstop consumerism from an unquenchable culture, begs us to stop and consider what God is saying.
Debt is a form of bondage. It limits our ability or capacity to be in charge of our financial choices, which takes away our liberty. When our money is tied up paying off a credit card, car, or home, our ability to go after new opportunity or the things God has laid on our heart can be limited. As Christians, we were meant to be yoked only to Jesus. Ask yourself this question, how much bondage are you willing to live with?
Granted, debt will have its purpose. Starting business ventures, gaining education, acquiring major assets (like a house), and funding major life events might fall into the category of debt that God and you might be willing to take on. Debt can be used as leverage in building a stronger economic funnel or engine in your life, but only at the level of capacity you are capable of handling. In the event you decide to go into debt, don't stop having conversations with God about either your current debt, or any potential new debt. Being a spiritual power, borrowing can reveal some nasty potential habits that will try to sneak up on us if we do not remain vigilant. How we carry and pay off these debts are very important.
According to MSN, almost 80% of Americans are currently in debt. According to CBS news, 73% of Americans are in debt when they die at an average of $63,000 per person. This tells me we’ve stopped having the conversation with God. We’ve grown accustomed to debt as a way of life, and we live in bondage until we die. It’s a wide and easy path to find in our country, but it’s not God’s heart for us.
We are meant to live in the promise land, a land flowing in abundance. We are meant to leave an inheritance to our children and our children's children. We are meant to be stewards of God's riches, using wealth to bring about God's Kingdom in an ever increasing measure.
So is debt wrong? Ultimately, no. But, it is a form of bondage, and we must use wisdom, with God, to determine if or when it is beneficial.
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