Right now, everyone is concerned with debt. National debt, personal debt- everyone knows who Dave Ramsey is and everyone is constantly hearing about the burden of student loan and credit card debt that is destroying, literally, an entire generation of young people.
The average college student graduates with more than $8000 of credit card debt alone, and depending on which state you live in, somewhere between $25k to $50k of student loan debt. They will be well into their late 30s before they pay that off.
Many of us think that going into debt leads to opportunities. When it comes to education, that may be so- you go into debt to get a degree that will pay off over time. However, the old ancient way of life, called “living within your means,” leads to far more opportunity than debt does.
When I felt moved by the Lord to do an intense 18-day mission trip to teach church planting and preach in countries not favorable to the gospel, a friend of mine discerned a clear call from the Holy Spirit to go with me.
He took me out for coffee and we talked about it. He was excited for me, and wanted to go with me.
But he couldn’t. He was $20k in credit card debt and couldn’t afford it.
He said, “I know without a doubt that God wants me to take this trip with you. You’re going by yourself and that’s not good. But when I said, “God, I can’t afford this trip,” He said, “Why?”
My friend told me that it hit him in that moment that his debt was keeping him from following the Lord.
Now, to some Christians, that wouldn’t matter. They wouldn’t really follow the Lord even if they weren’t in debt. Their love for the things that this world provides, as well as their affluent standard of living, is way more important that anything God would call them to do. But, to other Christians that truly want to live their faith, this is a devastating realization.
If you live within your means, and therefore have no debt, you are able to move whenever the Holy Spirit calls you to move. You are literally sitting on “go.” There is nothing holding you back. The Holy Spirit wants you to start a business? You can. The Holy Spirit wants you to take a different job with less pay so you can spend more time with your kids? You can. The Holy Spirit wants you to go on a mission trip? You can.
Living within your means leads to freedom. You aren’t a slave to a number- a dollar number that you have to earn each month that determines your work schedule, your family life, your giving, your generosity, and your flexibility. I wonder how many Christians would truly love to do more to help the elderly, the orphans, the poor- but can’t because they have spent themselves into such high levels of debt that all their resources go to pay it off?
I wonder how many Christians truly want to participate in the spreading of the gospel and the building up of the church, but can’t because of massive debt. I wonder how many Christians would love to change careers to a job where they can actually do something for the Lord, but can’t, because they have to earn a certain amount of money to pay what they owe. I wonder how many Christians’ lives are totally determined by debt.
Living within your means is laughed at. I know- I’ve been laughed at constantly. I couldn’t watch the UK game last night because my family and I don’t have cable TV. I couldn’t watch it online because my family and I got rid of the internet at home. All my broke friends laugh at me when I make those decisions.
But last week when the pictures and stories of 11 orphans came across my desk, and the Holy Spirit challenged me and my family to sponsor three of them, we were able to. The money that would have gone to internet ($40) and cable ($50) is now going to feed and care for orphans who can put all their worldly possessions in a shoe box. By living within our means, we were ready to move when the Holy Spirit told us to.
We hear tons of criticism of the church- it’s not doing enough, it doesn’t care, etc. I truly don’t think Christians don’t care. I’ve been around Christians all my life, and believe me, they DO care. They care more than any other group of people I know. They aren’t evil or neglectful of what their faith tells them to do. They’re just simply in debt and not able to do what God wants them to do.
This is why getting out of debt is so very important. Christians who are in debt because of unwise financial choices, or a lifestyle they cannot afford, are going to hear some very bad news from God on the day of their judgment. If you don’t believe me, read Matthew 25:31-46. I challenge Christians today to make getting out of debt their VERY FIRST PRIORITY and stop missing the opportunities that God wants you to take.
Live within your means and experience the freedom and joy that comes as a result of it. Yes, your broke friends will laugh at you. Get over it. Commit your finances to the Lord and do things His way, then watch the way that He uses you to accomplish His will in this world.