The short answer to this question is right out of Proverbs. Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” There are no exceptions to this rule; no one borrows their way to wealth. This piece of wisdom was hard to convince many people of just a few short years ago. We now have the wisdom of hindsight as to what happens when our debt gets out of hand.
Have you ever thought about what debt really is? Debt is what you take on when you do not have the money. If you think about it realistically, buying things you only have the money for is common sense. It is a concept children grasp at a young age and we hear mothers telling their children in the store…. “We aren’t buying that toy today, we don’t have the money”. Yet we buy things every day for which we do not have the money.
More importantly, debt does not allow for God’s provision. Think about that for a minute. If we are children of the Most High God and He can make happen what ever He wants to make happen in our lives, would not it be wise to wait and see what He has for us? In addition, debt does not allow the freedom to serve Him. What if God has an exciting opportunity for you, but you were stuck paying your debt rather than free to go where He led you.
There are some better forms of debt, for example taking out loans to further your education. Getting an education to obtain better employment can be a great investment in your future. However, you still need to be careful the amount of debt you take on for education. The cost of higher education varies widely among schools and the cost of the education does not necessarily mean a better education.
I recently had a young woman come to me with $100,000 in student loan debt. She has gone to a private school and paid for the entire four years with debt. Her liberal arts education was very good, but as with most recent graduates, had little work experience and her first job was low paying. We calculated that at her current rate of payment, it would take her 35 years to pay off the debt. She had to live with her parents as she could not pay the debt AND apartment rent. Talk about bondage!
Ok, so let us say you now know that debt is not good, but you learned the hard way. You are way over your head in debt and you do not know where to turn. There are a number of resources to help. Lutheran Social Services www.lssmn.org and Family Means www.familymeans.org have credit counseling, budgeting and financial education programs to help. There are offices all over the state and some on-line tools to get you started.
Maybe you are not in a crisis yet, but debt is hurting your marriage or other relationships. You worry about your future and your financial situation controls most of your thoughts. Financial Peace University program by Dave Ramsey is a great tool to work through your financial situation with ongoing fellowship and coaching. Look on-line for a program starting near you at www.daveramsey.com. Regardless of your situation, the Bible says get rid of debt and avoid it in the future, so get started!
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