When self-help gurus talk about getting out of debt – they often suggest new investing strategies or budgeting tips.
While living within one’s means and budget responsibly is prudent – the root of debt is deeper than financial crisis – in fact, it’s often a spiritual problem.
So, if you feel burdened by debt and want to be free, understanding the real root behind your bondage is important – and this root might not be what you think.
Life Isn’t About You
To start, remember life isn’t about you.
This statement might sting but is true.
We often think earning money means it’s ours to spend however we want – perhaps to buy the latest and greatest luxury or a bigger house.
But the money we make ultimately isn’t ours – it’s God’s – we are simply stewards.
What does being a steward mean?
Well, depending on what God is asking you to do, it means different things for different people.
Most important is grasping this key principle if you want to manage your money well.
Coveting Vs. Contentment
Wanting more happens to the best of us.
We feel content in our lives with what we have…
… and then we see a friend’s post on social media – a photo of their latest and greatest new item. Suddenly, we feel we too “need” this item.
Our phone (or car, computer, insert whatever item you’d like here) that works just fine, suddenly feels old and dated.
It’s no longer enough. We want more.
But the more we covet and lust after – the more we’ll want.
Seeking contentment in material goods is a quick fix for an insatiable thirst that can never be quenched.
Many people go into debt simply due to the sin of coveting what their neighbor has.
What’s the antidote?
Be content with what you have.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:6–9
The Idol of Comfort
Our fleshly bodies crave comfort.
We like convenient and accessible items…
… and we enjoy gadgets and goods that make our lives easier.
But nowhere in the Bible does God call Christians to live a “comfortable” life – in fact, He calls us to the opposite:
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Instead of indulging ourselves, Christ tells us to deny ourselves.
Does this mean we “punish” ourselves and live like stoics?
The point is to take the focus off ourselves, our wants, our needs. Instead, look to the cross.
When we live as Jesus instructs us – we’ll be sensitive to the needs around us.
Sometimes it might mean something more radical like moving overseas and being a missionary – or it could mean not getting the “newer car” so you have more money to tithe.
Our true comfort should come in internalizing the sovereign power of God – knowing He is faithful and will supply us with all that we need.
When you’re focused on Jesus, and not personal comfort, you’ll be amazed at how you can use your resources in a different way.
Keep An Eternal Perspective
We aren’t going to live forever, and one day we’ll die – taking nothing with us from this world.
Knowing our true home is heaven should motivate us to steward our time and treasure well – all for the glory of God.
It’s worth mentioning that sometimes Christians can live out these principles and still fall into financial difficulties.
Whether it’s a sick child, loss of income, or a personal tragedy – debt can and does happen.
And even if the result of your debt is due to poor past choices, don’t beat yourself up over it, today is a new day.
If you are right with God spiritually and know your heart and attitude towards money reflects God’s design, consider a program like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to help you strategically pay down your debt and regain your footing.
Money in itself isn’t evil, but the way we desire and use it can be used to build up God’s kingdom, or tear it down.
The choice is yours.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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