So what’s the point?
The point of getting out of debt?
We have spent four weeks talking about the “Why and How of Debt” on “Let’s Talk Money with Dave and Reb”, and I sit here wondering if debt is something that we really understand. It strips us of freedom, burdens us, and leads us into worry, anxiety and sleepless nights. And still we persist to live in it.
But is debt really wrong?
God says in the Holy Scriptures that we should run from debt like a deer from the hunter and a bird from the trapper. In Proverbs 6, He tells us that we are in the clutches of the man we are bound to. These are the words as interpreted in The Message: “Dear friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbour or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger, If you’ve impulsively promised the shirt off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold, Friend, don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess. You’re in that man’s clutches! Go, put on a long face; act desperate. Don’t procrastinate – there’s no time to lose. Run like a deer from the hunter, fly like a bird from the trapper!
Run like a deer. Fly like a bird. But why?
The world tells us that we need so much to fill our lives: vacations, Netflix, wine, food, new cars, entertainment, movies, and so much more.
“If you don’t have the money. No problem. We have the credit card for you. If that is at its limit, we extend your limit. Just make a minimum payment and we will get that extended for you.”
Maybe it is getting harder to get credit, but it is still easy to find. Credit is easy and so is debt.
“Get what you want, when you want because we have the zero per cent interest payment plan for you.”
So what is the problem?
The stress. The burden. The worry. The enslavement to the lender.
That is the problem.
There is a lie that that those things you have just bought or experienced will somehow fill the void, give you the peace, help you relax. But in the night you might be awakened by worry wondering how you are going to pay for those empty-promises.
God says debt is a burden. It enslaves us. And we end up worrying about it. It affects our mental health, and can affect our closest relationships. According to one 2013 report, at least 1 in 5 of Canadian divorces are caused by issues around money. (See http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/why-money-issues-still-ruin-marriages/wcm/ff418c0b-4ff5-4705-aaf1-75a04b224885#comments-area)
Financial planner Jason Heath writes in the Financial Post article, “As a financial planner, I sometimes feel more like a money therapist. When you talk to people about how to manage their money, it becomes clear that money arguments between couples aren’t really about money after all but about the pursuit of happiness.”
The pursuit of happiness. Could we say also that debt is about our pursuit of happiness?
Owing what we have been given freely to give
God tells us that not only should we flee from debt, but we should only owe what He has given us to give. It is not about our happiness but about LOVE.
Romans 13 says, Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
When we are worried or self-focused over our finances, there is very little place for loving our neighbour through financial means. God tells us to give love freely, especially to the poor, the orphan, the widow. But how much of our finances are truly earmarked to fulfill that commandment? There are statistics out there that you can find for yourself, but be assured, Canadians give less than one per cent of their income to charities. (See this Global News article: http://globalnews.ca/news/3130108/charitable-giving-in-canada-drops-to-10-year-low-according-to-tax-data/) Admittedly, these statistics do not include forms of generosity that involve time, expertise and shared-resources, but we need to be aware that more of our personal finances, on average, go toward interest on household debt, than to charities. And that is a problem.
Back to the Word
God is telling us in His Word to stay away from financial debt so we can love our neighbour more freely with what we have; without worry, without fear, free of burden or concern about being paid back.
It is time to re-prioritize.
You can be set free from this burden of debt so you can run freely to your neighbour and pour out freely all you have been given to share. It is possible. Don’t let the lies of the world tell you any different.
But it takes:
- Vigilance to pursue debt-free living
- A plan that you regularly visit, to help you stay on track financially
- God-seeking because He is the only One who will help you get through that eye of the needle.
- Accountability with a trusted coach, friend or pastor
- And lots of grace for the journey in the failings and successes
Freedom from financial debt is possible.
And it is possible for you. It’s not just something that happens to others. It is a plan God wants you to walk out everyday, and at every turn He will meet you.
It’s not necessarily easy, but it is within your grasp.
If you need to talk to someone about how you can get started on your debt-free journey, or you want to return to that journey, don’t hesitate to contact More Than Enough. We have coaches ready to help you.
Rebecca van Noppen is Communications Director at More Than Enough. She is also a teacher, home educator, writer, and woman who loves to pray. A lover of Jesus, she works alongside her husband Financial Coach Dave van Noppen to help others find hope and freedom in Christ on their financial journeys.