Debt&Money Worries for Christians?|
Q. My husband lost his job. We are $60,000 in debt on top of our $200,000 mortgage. We are making payments for a $37,000 car. My children want to continue with expensive music lessons and sports which require costly uniforms and equipment. We need braces and dental work which will add another $10,000 to our debt. And I'm embarrassed by my old furniture and would like something nicer. Finally, our property taxes are too high for us since houses have appreciated around 50% in this area the past eight years. What does the Bible say about debt and finances? Any suggestions for us?
I think your situation is typical of the average American Christian family today. You may not like my advice, though, even though we have tried to "take our own medicine." Please consider it and then pray about it for your own benefit.
Come Out - Be Separate
God tells His children to, "COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST, AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD" (2 Corinthians 6:17, Isaiah 52:11, Revelation 18:4, NASB).
This verse tells Christians to separate from the world and draw close to God. It means to avoid entertainment that leads to sin and reaches into how we should spend our time and money.
For many Christian families this means to do some radical things if they want to bring their lives into conformity with biblical teachings.
1. Get out of debt - "The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). If you have to sell your house and car to rid yourself of debt, do it. Rent for awhile. Take the bus or buy a used car.
2. Stop wanting what your neighbor has. One of the Ten Commandments is…"you shall not desire your neighbor's house…" (Deut. 5:21). This means to quit wanting expensive furniture, designer houses, and designer clothes. We have forgotten that envy is wrong.
Be Grateful for what we Have
3. Teach your family to be content with what you have. If you have "food and clothing" this is enough (1 Tim. 6:8). This may mean joining a Christian community who follows what the Bible teaches.
Don't love Money
4. Teach your family to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). Engage in low cost and entertaining church activities, family get-togethers, and neighborhood sports. Try reading books from the local library. Take hiking trips, and participate in other inexpensive pursuits. Teach your family firsthand about living on a budget.
Don't love the World
5. Teach your family to quit loving this evil world. It offers only a lust for physical pleasure, a lust for things, and pride in what we have (1 John 2:15). Everything we "desire" will be gone in no time. That means to avoid fancy cars, houses, furniture, status symbols, and other tokens of greed
Resist Peer Pressure
6.Do not join the crowd in doing evil (Exodus 23:2). Ezekiel 16:49 tells us that Sodom's sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony while the poor and needy suffered outside the doors.
Care for the Poor
7.Teach your family to care for the poor. …"if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help - how can God's love be in that person?" (1 John 3:17).
Last, please understand that as we attempt to follow biblical principles of finances and living, we find ourselves subject to incredible pressure from friends and family. They try to convince us that we are being "extreme," or that we are not living in the "real world." This is because they have probably succumbed to worldly pressures and want to feel better about themselves. However, that does not mean we should give in to worldly goals and peer pressure.
"Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!" (Haggai 1:4-6, NLT).
De Graaf, Wann,&Naylor. 2005. Affluenza: The all-consuming epidemic. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Long, Charles. 2003. How to survive without a salary. Ontario, Canada: Warwick.
Sider, Ronald. 2005. The scandal of the evangelical conscience. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
—- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.
Simon, Arthur. 2003. How much is enough. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.