Breaking the Bondage of Debt

You can listen to the podcast for this message here. Thanks again to Dave Ramsey for supplying the principles in this message.

Don’t believe everything you hear. Think about this, who taught you that borrowing money was a good idea? Was it your friends that have bill collectors calling them every day? That’s like taking marriage advice from someone that has been divorced 7 times. Marketing tells us that borrowing money is something everyone does and that it’s something we need to do to be happy – that it will help us get ahead. But research indicates that 75% of the wealthiest people in the world said the most important financial principle is getting out of debt and staying out of debt. Have you ever heard anyone say that the reason they “made it” was that they got into debt? You will never meet a millionaire who made his fortune using cash back from a credit card. But that’s not what society tells us. The truth is that if you tell a lie often enough and long enough, the lie becomes accepted as truth – think Facebook beginning to charge for using the site. People believe the lie and pass it on. They’re not doing it to be mean, they’ve just bought into the lie themselves and accepted it as truth.

  • You need to build your credit score.
  • You need a safe car, so you should buy new or lease.
  • You need a credit card to buy anything.
  • Nobody pays cash for a car, let alone a house.

What direction do you think North is? If you were to ask people which direction it is, you’ll get a variety of answers. A lot of people will get it right, but the people who didn’t weren’t lying. They aren’t dumb, they weren’t trying to mislead anyone. They were sincere in their answer, but they were wrong. If you look at a compass, you’ll find true North. You and I have a compass; it’s the Word of God. It doesn’t matter how you feel. North is north. No amount of marketing; no amount of talking changes that fact.

Pro. 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.”

We need a paradigm shift in the church and in America. Paradigm is defined as a way or manner of thinking. Debt has been marketed to us in such a way that it’s hard to imagine life without it. We need a paradigm shift to biblical principles. Take the FICO score, for example. FICO stands for the Fair Isaac Corporation that created the industry standard for determining a person’s risk for credit in the mid 1980s. The higher the score, the lower the risk for a bank or lending institution to lend money. We’ve come to believe that a good FICO score is the magic key that unlocks all financial doors, but that’s simply not true. A FICO score is nothing but a measure of the debt you can incur. You can’t have a FICO score if you’ve never had debt or don’t have the potential to incur debt. The calculation for the score has absolutely nothing to do with your income or your potential for success. It is completely based on your debt, what kind of debt you have, how long you’ve been in debt, and how well you pay on your debt. We give debt and that credit score way too much power in our lives. We worship at the altar of debt as our provider instead of realizing that God is our provider. Debt is a way of saying that God didn’t give you enough.

Sometimes, we need a fresh perspective. Here’s a fresh perspective on debt. It’s only been around for about 3,000 years. Pro. 22:7: “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” The Bible is clear that debt is slavery. It’s like putting on hand cuffs. Regardless of how you feel, debt is slavery.

There are three ways to break the chains of debt. Get intense like a gazelle. Pro. 6:1, 4-5: “My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, have given a pledge for a stranger . . . give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids; deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.” The cheetah is the fastest animal on the planet and he is a chaser – a predator. He chases to eat – to live.  A cheetah can run about 75 mph. A gazelle can run about 50 mph. The very second a gazelle notices a cheetah running after him, he runs. His life depends on him escaping the cheetah. The cheetah is the lender and you are the gazelle. Even though the cheetah is faster, he can’t keep up that speed up indefinitely. A gazelle is slower, but he can run at top speed for 15-20 minutes. Lenders are not the devil incarnate, but they are on the prowl. My son got his first credit card offer in the mail and his first telemarketer phone call when he was around 12. We have people in national leadership saying everyone deserves to own their own home. There is 0% financing on everything from cars to couches, from lawn mowers to living rooms. You can finance pretty much anything you want to. If you don’t want to finance it, you can rent to own. Furniture, appliance, computers, tires, and wheels. Our local rental center offers a 47” LCD TV for just $119.99 a month. If you use the rent to own plan, you’ll buy that $1799.99 TV for $2879.76. That’s an additional $1079.77. People now a days don’t care how much it costs, they only care about the amount of the monthly payment. Don’t fall into the trap that you deserve a new car, a new phone, a new computer, a new whatever.

Proverbs tells us debt is not a plan. You’re putting yourself in danger. The cheetah is a relentless pursuer. You’ve got to be the gazelle. If you’re not running full speed, that cheetah will catch you and he will kill you. Your life depends on it. Your family depends on it. Pro. 13:22: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” You can’t do that if you’re in debt all your life. You can break the chains of debt for good. You can chase the cheetah.

Get out of debt. People say, “But debt is just a normal part of life, right?” Wrong.  Just because something is normal does not mean it’s right. Normal in America is just another way to say broke. If normal is broke, I don’t want to be normal. I want to be abnormal. You might say that’s all well and good, but how can I get out of debt? Quit borrowing money. Remember when you find yourself getting deeper and deeper in a hole, put down the shovel. Emergencies are going to happen. Cars break, they need new tires. People get sick and need to go to the doctor. Plan for these unforeseen events with an emergency fund and don’t rely on credit cards. Prayer really does work. God has crazy love for you. If you haven’t prayed in a while, He’s still there. It’s not like the connection has been removed. He’s waiting to talk to you about your life. Tell Him what you need help with. Sell something – liquidate some assets. Dave Ramsey says, “Sell so much stuff the kids think they’re next!” Find the stuff in your life that’s just cluttering up the house and get rid of it. Many people could have a $1,000 beginner emergency fund if they’d just sell the stuff they aren’t using. If you haven’t used something in a year, you probably don’t need it.

Take a part-time job. To get out of debt, you can either reduce spending or increase income. For most people, increasing income may not really be an option, but a part-time job might help bridge the gap in your finances. I’m not saying get an 80 hour a week job, but if you have debt, then you’re sitting in a mess. When your house is a mess, you clean it up one step at a time. A part-time job might be one step in the process. Remember, this is a temporary thing. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. With that extra money – don’t buy more stuff.

Attack your debts using Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball. List your debts from smallest to largest balance. Now, some of you will say that it makes more sense to pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first. That may make sense mathematically, but here’s the deal. If we were really doing math, we wouldn’t be in debt, would we? Put minimum payments on everything but the smallest one, and pay that one off as quickly as you can. Remember in our first message I quoted Dave Ramsey, “Personal finance is 80% behavior; it’s only 20% head knowledge.” Taking care of these smaller debts quickly will give you a sense of victory – that you are making progress. If you’ve got 10 debts and it takes you a year to knock out the first one, you’ll likely never get to the remaining 9. Go for the quick wins. After you knock out the first debt on the list, you take all that money you were throwing on it and move to the next one. Every time you pay off a debt, you have more money to put toward the next one. That’s why it’s a snowball – as the snowball rolls over, it picks up more snow. By the time you’re a few debts down your list, that snowball is moving faster and faster and gets bigger and bigger. Before long, that snowball will roll over all your debts.

Save money. Before you attack your debt snowball, save up $1,000 as an emergency fund. Remember this is your “Murphy repellent ” This is the buffer between you and life. If you don’t have any money in savings and your car breaks down while you’re paying off your debts, what do you think you’ll do? You’ll use your credit card. Don’t do it. Pro. 13:4 tells us, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.” Be diligent with your effort and ask God to bless it. Don’t sit around belly aching to God about your finances. Get to work and ask God to get involved. It’s impossible for God to steer you when you’re not moving.

Gal. 5:1 says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Debt is slavery. You can’t get ahead financially by staying a slave to debt. How much could you give, save, and blow if you had no payments? What could the people of God do for the Kingdom of God if they were debt-free? I invite you to make that question a part of your prayer time this week, a part of your quiet time this week, a part of your devotion time this week, and see what God would have you to do. “What could the people of God do for the Kingdom of God if they were debt-free?”

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