After watching a video today on the National Debt and it’s enormity I began thinking about debt in general and how it impacts individuals, families, corporations, churches and governments. I won’t get into the debate about whether a person should ever incur any debt or not, only confess that I have debt and we are working to eliminate it. The question or issue I want to address is “What is the effect of debt?” Honestly, I do not have the time, space, or expertise to fully address that question but would like to share a few thoughts regarding it.
The writer of Proverbs, speaking under inspiration of the Holy Spirit makes a powerful statement in Proverbs 22:7 – “…the borrower is servant to the lender.” NKJV Simply put, debt enslaves us. I have a mortgage and a certain percentage of my time is dedicated to earning enough money to make that mortgage payment. Therefore, the lending institution owns a certain percentage of my life, because time is life. Whatever debt you have requires you to invest a percentage of your life to fulfill the debt, making you a servant to that item and institution. My paternal grandfather never owned an automobile because he believed that he should purchase nothing unless he could pay cash for it, and never had the cash to pay for an automobile. My parents did not adopt that philosophy, so they incurred debt, although not a large amount. Most of us grew up in a world where to own a home, possibly a car and other things we had to incur debt and begin making payments to support our lifestyle. Not debating the issue, just stating that whether we over extended ourselves, or purchased what might be considered the basic necessities, we obligated ourselves to a lender and thereby became servants to that lender whomever, it might be. Sadly, I’ve known of preachers who felt a call of God to do or go places, but because of the financial debt they had incurred they felt they could not follow the call. Debt is a harsh taskmaster and quite an unforgiving one at that.
Have you ever said to anyone or has anyone ever said to you, “You owe me one.” If so, you either found yourself with an expected obligation or placed someone under an obligation. The same is true with the phrase, “return the favor.” It carries the idea of obligation. A gift or assistance that requires repayment or an expected reciprocation is not a gift, it is a debt and debts carry no reward spiritually. I have no issue with friends going out for a meal and one pays one time and the other the next, but if done with a sense that I am paying tonight and expect you to reciprocate at some time in the future, then I have indebted you rather than treating you out of the generousness and love of my heart. In a real sense, I have enslaved you to my expectations, and that perception of debt can destroy friendships, relationships and even families. I have had people do things for me that I knew expected nothing in return, but I indebted myself through my sense of obligation or satisfying my pride or ego to repay them. They did it out of a genuine spirit of generosity, but instead of receiving it as such I felt obligated to reciprocate, after all my pride said, “I do not want charity.” If my desire to help them when they were in need was solely out of love, Christian generosity and willingness to help anyone, that is wonderful! However, if I do it because I remember that they did something for me, its debt and creates, a cycle of obligation that is foreign to biblical principles. Galatians 6:10 advises us that as we have opportunity we should do good for everyone, and especially those of the household of faith. My gift of money or service is not just given to the person but to God with nothing expected in return. Having the ability to do it is truly reward enough, and yet I know from a biblical perspective, that God will bless and enrich our lives as a result, but if I show Christian kindness and charity expecting something in return, its debt.
How do you get rid of debt? Nationally, personally, or on a corporate level, you have to stop incurring new debt, and pay down the principal. Simply put, you have to make the interest payments and additional payments on the remaining principal without adding to the principal by additional borrowing. Nationally, we are a trillion miles from that philosophy. We are hearing a great deal about the deficit, but little about the debt. Reducing the deficit only slows the amount of increased debt we are incurring it does not solve the problem. So, nationally if we are to pay off the debt that this nation has incurred, two things have to happen:
1. We must spend less than we take in.
2. We must apply the excess to paying both principal and interest on the existing debt.
Do I think that those running our government or the populace will ever allow this to happen? NO! We have become a welfare entitlement nation, and most politicians and people want cuts everywhere but where it affects them. So we ignore the debt, and make an issue of the deficit, which we must address, but not at the expense of addressing the debt itself. WHY? Because, we are in debt to nations who have long desired our destruction, and through our debt we are, in a great measure, enslaved by those Peoples. That is a precarious position and one that will, in all likelihood, eventually destroy our nation. If we were to cease spending on a national level, and use every dime of revenue to pay on the debt it would not be paid off in centuries, so I see no possibility of it happening. We would, at best, reduce spending only slightly and the excess applied to the debt would require millenniums not centuries to pay off.
That brings me to my final thought which addresses the issue on a more personal level. Let’s examine our own personal lifestyles and determine that we will seek to become debt free. That means more than just a little tightening of the belt it means a radical lifestyle change. What would it mean if every believer was debt free? It would mean that the funds that God places in our hands could not only provide for our necessities, even a few things beyond, and produce trillions for the work of the Kingdom of God. A very wealthy individual told me once that when he realized that debt was servitude he and his wife changed their lifestyle and only purchased what they could pay cash for. They then made investments and gave the rest to God, and over the years God had so engineered their lives that they had more money than they or their children could ever spend. This individual’s giving amounted to approximately 90% of his increase annually, and yet his net worth continued to grow. They were no longer slaves!
I am deeply troubled by our National Debt, but I am more troubled by my personal debt. Yet, I am most thankful for the fact that I owed a debt that I could not pay and Jesus paid a debt that He did not owe so that I could be free spiritually! Thank you Lord for your sacrifice! You paid it freely and willingly, and truthfully asked nothing in return. I received that gift, and on this Easter will be ever so mindful of the enormous sacrifice you made to free me from the bondage of the debt of sin! While, I cannot cease speaking out about some things political, deep inside, my heart cries for freedom, not just spiritually but financially as well. I cry for that personally and for our nation! May God richly bless you on this celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord!