How Financial Troubles Impact Spiritual Growth
Debt does not discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are, where you live, or what you look like. If you’re African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, Eastern Indian or part of any other ethnic group, your family history does not preclude you from Debt. If you’re a freshman in college, Debt may come knocking at your door. If you’re an up and coming young professional, Debt could be a mere paycheck away. If you’re fast approaching retirement, Debt may assault you with such force that you are required to continue working simply to appease its ravenous appetite. It doesn’t care if you’re an atheist, a Christian, or an agnostic. Debt has no respecter of persons.
Debt is a tyrannical ruler. In order to meet its insatiable demands, you find yourself doing things you told yourself you’d never do; things like: putting your children in daycare, taking out a second mortgage, selling a prized possession, moving to a smaller house in a not so good neighborhood. Sometimes you even compromise your beliefs and resort to immoral ways of making a little extra money in order to take care of Debt. Debt has even been responsible for the demise of more than one family or relationship.
However, if you are a Christ follower, also known as a Christian, you do not have to allow Debt to stand between you and Lord.
WHY ARE PEOPLE IN DEBT?
Before going any further it is imperative to answer a prevailing question: why are people in debt?
The obvious answer is something along the lines of: people are in debt because they spend more money than they make (which is also known as living beyond one’s means). To borrow a phrase from my junior high years, “Well, duh!” That’s a given. If person spends more than he makes, he’s going to end up doing his level best to dig himself out of a hole. It’s a simple principle that pretty much everyone understands.
However, the scenarios that lead up to most people being in debt are far more complex than that basic rationale. Some of the more popular scenarios are as follows:
1. Job loss
One thing about which all Americans can be certain is the fact that today’s economy is extremely uncertain. The loss of a job is something that causes many families and individuals to go into financial crisis. As PageC, a fellow Hubber, stated “A family may have bought a house based on two incomes, and if they lose one income, they might not be able to keep up on their expenses.” Was the couple being irresponsible or living beyond their means? Absolutely not! In that scenario, when the couple originally purchased the home, they had every right to assume that they would be able to keep up with the mortgage payments. They ended up in debt due to circumstance beyond their control.
2. Job change
Though this scenario seems to mirror the previous scenario, the circumstances are different. However, this scenario could be an extension of the previous one. When an individual loses his or her job, it only makes sense that person begins to seek new employment in their given field. If the job seeker fails to find a position in their area of expertise, they may find it necessary to accept employment in fields that are foreign to them. Though they are back in the workforce, their new position earns less money than their former position. As a result, it is impossible to keep up with bills and other monthly payments because there isn’t enough money coming in to break even
3. Failure to establish emergency fund
The average financial speaks highly of establishing an emergency fund. They say that everyone should set aside three to six months worth of their monthly income to be used in the event of an emergency. Doing so would enable the individual who facing job loss, pay cuts or some other type of emergency are able to stay up to date on monthly payments. However, people who never get around to setting up an emergency fund face a crisis. They must use money that is earmarked for bills to take care of emergency repairs to home or car, to pay for health services, etc.
4. Health issues
PageC said, “A major reason for bankruptcies in the U.S. is because of health issues.” That is an unfortunate reality for many households today. With the rise in health care costs more and more families find themselves in situations where they are need of much needed medical attention in the forms of expensive medications, life saving procedures and preventive measures. They know that failing to take care of themselves or their loved ones will result in certain death, so they opt to use what little money they have for medical assistance, all the while knowing that by doing so they will not be able to meet the basic needs of the household.
5. Tax codes
LandmarkWealth, another Hubber, says that current tax codes bear responsibility in leading people into debt. “We tax income at higher rates when you achieve more in earnings through work or interest on your savings, yet we give you a tax deduction for mortgage interest. It is simply lopsided. We discourage wealth creation and incentivize Debt creation.”
GOD’S TAKE ON DEBT
The average person may be surprised to learn that the Bible actually has quite a bit to say about debt. There is the command to cancel all debts every seventh year (Deuteronomy 15 and 31). There are specific guidelines as to the types of things that may not be accepted as security for a debt (Deuteronomy 24). There are even admonitions about not going into debt (Proverbs 22). However, the most compelling Biblical words regarding the subject are found in the Book of Romans, “Let no Debt remain outstanding, except the continuing Debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law”.
It is very clear that God has called His children to owe no man anything except to love each other in Jesus. However, many Christians find themselves in debt and that debt drives a wedge between them and the Lord.
DEBT'S NEGATIVE EFFECTS
Debt has a negative effect on everyone. However, the mere fact that the people of God are cautioned against debt typically results in overwhelming guilty feelings because insurmountable debts result in one (or all) of the following:
A familiar passage of Scripture says that rather than be anxious or worried, people of God are to present their requests to God so that his peace can cover them. Unfortunately, that’s not an easy request for those who are struggling to take care of their basic needs. As bill collectors start calling, individual cease to pray about their situation and give way to worry and doubt, filling their days with thoughts and plans regarding how to make ends meet.
- Lack of trust
When people are in the midst of financial crises, they don’t think clearly. They are focused on their needs and the fact that provision isn’t there. They feel that they have to do for themselves because God is not filling his role as provider. They take their eyes off God and look for other options and alternative that can put them in negative standing with God.
- Skip on tithes
Though many Christians are aware of the blessings promised to those who faithfully give ten percent of all they receive to the Lord. However, there are those who choose to forfeit the blessing, believing that God understands and knows that as soon as they can afford to tithe they will.
Christians do not have to allow debt to stand between them and the Lord. There are number of alternatives that can show people how to get out of debt, while growing spiritually.
Both Dave Ramsey and Kregg Hood offer sound advice for Christians on how to use their negative financial situation as a catalyst for becoming a spiritual giant. Neither time nor space allow for an indepth look at either individual. However, a number of their resources are listed below.
Resources from Dave Ramsey:
Resources from Kregg Hood:
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