Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Financial Opportunity: Turning Around DEBT - Part 1

What does the book of Proverbs teach about debt? I find two principles that we would be wise to hear. Every obstalce has an opportunity. This is an area where I am praying that the obstacles of our current economic downturn will create some opportunities in the lives of believers in our church who are ready to wake up and make some changes in the way they spend their money.

Before we look at this let me remind you of something. Biblical stewardship is not just giving 10% (your tithe) to the church. Yes, that’s part of it but that is really only 1/10th of it. Stewardship is properly managing all of my resources, not just giving a percentage of it to the church. Why? Because it all belongs to God to begin with. The only reason you have the income you have is because He has allowed you to have it and wants you to manage it wisely.

So what does the book or Proverbs teach about debt? First, this wise book teaches that the more in debt I am, the more I lose control of my life. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” And that right there describes the vast majority of Americans. We have become slaves to debt.

Do you realize that the average family in America this year will pay out $1,500 in credit card interest alone. I’m not talking interest on mortgages or car loans…just credit card interest. Now stop and think about that with me. In a church our size that means that the people who make up Grace Church of Lititz will collectively pay over $1,00,000 this year in credit card interest. That’s not money that will pay down their credit card debt…that is just the interest. Imagine what we could do if everyone in our church paid off their credit card debt and took what they normally paid on credit card interest and gave it to the ministry of our church instead. I honestly believe that a lot of people really want to give more to the church but can’t. Why? Because they are slaves to their debt. They’ve lost control. How do I know that? Because I’ve been there. Boy, have I been there.

In our early years of marriage I allowed our family to become a slave to debt. I had several credit cards and I wasn’t afraid to use them. I didn’t use them wisely. I used them so we can eat out and buy things we didn’t have the money to buy. It didn’t take long before the amount of interest I owed on my credit cards each month was more than I could afford. Listen, I couldn’t even afford the interest let alone the principle. That’s not it. When I would get those offers in the mail where they would send you the check for a loan and all I had to do was sign it and cash it, I signed it, I cashed it and I used it. Back then, our health insurance company would send all payments to me, made out to my name. I was then supposed to turn around and give that money to the doctors and hospitals that it was owed to. More than once I used that money for other things and the debt just kept piling up. There were many times during those youth ministry years of my life that I would have loved to have given more to the Lord and to the church but I couldn’t. Why? Because I was a slave to debt. Listen, Proverbs is true…the more in debt I become the more I lose control of my life…plain and simple.

More tomorrow...

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