No, it’s not a follow-God-and-you’ll-become-rich type thing. Well, eventually, it kind of is (Hebrews 11). But let’s consider what contributed to your indebtedness. Maybe it was a medical condition that you could never have prevented, requiring expensive treatments. Maybe some other tragedy completely devastated you financially. Perhaps you were swindled out of your entire savings and then had your house burn down, and insurance found a loop hole that meant nothing was covered.
But if you’re like most Americans, chances are your debt was more within your control than any of that. Or even if life threw you some unavoidable debt, is it possible that you accrued more debt that was preventable? Most people who have mounds of debt are deficient in some areas that giving can help obliterate. Paying off your debt is a good thing, but if you lack the disciplines and motivation to stay out, you’ll only get buried again.
An Antidote to Greed
Maybe you don’t see yourself as greedy or covetous. Not as much as other people, anyway. But really? Our society of credit cards and instant downloads doesn’t exactly promote delayed gratification. Marketers smartly feed us lies about what we need and how much we deserve it.
That kind of thinking is directly opposed to the cross-bearing, others-focused way of Christ (Matthew 16:24). Adapting a counter-cultural perspective on your finances will likely bring criticism from covetous people, like Mary’s extravagant gift to Christ did from the likes of Judas (John 12:1-8). Despite the unpopular notion that generosity is better than greed, it’s really a freeing concept that God can use to liberate you from what might have prompted you to accrue debt at all.
A Matter of Discipline
Sometimes, debt sneaks up on you. There was no unwise major purchase or consistent strain of covetous impulse buys. Simply put, there was a lack of discipline in your spending. You just weren’t intentional enough about it to live within or beneath your means. As Dave Ramsey puts it, “If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.” If you’re so strapped that you can’t afford to pay for basic necessities and make minimum payments on your debt, something has to give. (Perhaps you could consider getting a second job for a predetermined amount of time, with a specific financial goal in view.)
Usually, though, we can find a way to meet our obligations by carefully budgeting frugal living. The frugal habits and discipline of tracking your expenditures and staying within your budget will help you get out of debt more quickly and remain free from future financial desperation, in years to come.
Establishing greater discipline in your spending habits and fighting against covetousness will reap an added benefit: Once your debt is paid off, you’ll more easily resist the urge to spend more, freeing you to give more extravagantly, as well.
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