Credit is as American as Baseball. We make purchases that we can’t afford today and for many, it results in being in over their head. God doesn’t want you to live a life of financial ruin.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” – Luke 14:28
This verse is part of a larger parable. In it, Jesus was doing what He did so many times: He was illustrating the fact that being a disciple wasn’t easy.
25 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-27
Although verse 28 should be viewed in the context of the parable, looking at it through a financial lens isolated from the rest is appropriate because the lesson and the meaning is powerful on its own.
I hope you don’t mind some hard hitting words because I believe it’s the only way we’re going to understand the problem that is plaguing us financially. It’s ruining our lives and it has become so commonplace that we look past it in search for another cause. We barely give it a second thought anymore.
Debt is the thief that is taking all of your money. Here are a few facts:
- 33 percent of all consumer debt is in the form of a credit card
- 67 percent is in the form of cars, student loans, credit cards, and other big ticket items.
- 17 percent of disposable income is spent servicing debt.
What strikes me about this verse is the fact that Jesus doesn’t entertain the idea of debt. He has a very cash oriented mindset and within the parable, He uses the idea of building something without the necessary funds as an act of foolishness. It doesn’t seem to enter His mind that a person would borrow the money to build the tower. Did they have creditors in Jesus’ day? Absolutely! Look at this verse:
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7
Borrowing was an option and if Jesus were OK with it, it’s hard to believe that He would have said what He did in that verse as well as other verses in the Bible.
Here’s the truth: I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where God condones debt. In order to live a financially prosperous life, (that doesn’t mean rich) you cannot be in debt. If you’re buying on credit, you’re setting yourself up for ruin. Think about this: when you purchase on credit, you’re betting on your future ability to pay back the debt but God doesn’t promise us a tomorrow.
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” -James 4:13-17
When you purchase on credit, you’re betting on your future ability to pay back the debt but God doesn’t promise us a tomorrow.
What if you lose you job? What if you get sick or injured? These aren’t uplifting things to think about but your creditors won’t care if a catastrophic event takes place in your life. This isn’t a wise gamble and God knows that. On top of that, if the average household has more than $11,000 in credit card debt, you’re likely paying more than $1,000 in interest each year. Check out this calculator to see how much you will pay if you only make minimum credit card payments.
Finally, you might wonder about your home. It’s true that most of us cannot afford to purchase a home with cash but even in a challenged housing market, those who purchase a home and hold it for a long period of time will likely see the value of the home rise since we’re now at the low point of a housing cycle that tends to spans decades. Because your home is an investment, it’s a little easier to justify. Still, we have to be honest and say that the Bible doesn’t say that any kind of debt is OK.
Understand that a large portion of the financial difficulties in your life are likely because of debt. Regardless of how far into debt you and your family might be, there’s a way out. First, as you tithe, God will bless your finances. He says to test Him and there’s no doubt that it works. Second, check out Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. He lays out ways to get out from under your debt. It won’t be easy but it’s worth it. You can do it. God wants to help! We’re Christians and because of that, we’re victorious because Christ was!
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