Monday, March 7, 2011

Freedom From Debt

Over the past almost four years, my husband and I have made a committment to not use credit cards.  Before this decision was made, we had racked up $20,000 in consumer debt.  I used to not think it was a big deal.  For me, I got what I wanted, and I figured that we would just pay it off eventually.  Over time, however, I began to become discontent with the looming debt.  My husband hated it, and he felt like he couldn't provide for us to pay it off.  This created stress. 

We are taught in our society that debt is necessary.  How can one survive without it?  Just think about how many credit card offers you receive in the mail or how many times you are asked if you have a certain store's card when checking out there.  It's everywhere!  We want, so we get.  We borrow, so we owe, and then we regret, and sometimes we even lose it to the bank.  Why the crazy cycle?  Perhaps we don't know or perhaps we have just failed to recognize the truth about debt.

"The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Proverbs 22:7).

After realizing that we did not want to be slaves to our lenders anymore, we wanted to find a way out.  We realized that by using our credit cards, we were not fully trusting the Lord to provide for everything we need.  We were trusting in chariots - our own strength and might - our credit cards.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7).

How freeing it has been to be able to pay off debt and not accrue anymore!  We have seen the LORD provide for us in ways we had missed out on before because now we had to trust Him.  As a result we have so many precious examples of ways He has shown us His love for us through His provision for us.  It's been a fun and adventurous journey, and we are very thankful that we have paid off all but $1400 to date.  In fact, by the end of April, we plan to be completely out of consumer debt!  Praise God!

I was thinking about all of this lately when I was at church a few Sundays ago.  We were singing, "Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow."  I have known for years that Jesus paid the debt of my sin, and I have rejoiced in this time and time again.  This day, however, it was all new to me again.  Being so close to being free from consumer debt, and after working so hard at it, made me realize just how enslaving debt is.  How much more the debt of my sin?  How much more did I need Jesus to free me from this once and for all.  I am so thankful that I asked Him to do this over fourteen years ago. 

"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:22,23).

It is clear to me more now than ever that I would rather be a slave to God than a slave to a lender or to money itself.  God is a kind, gracious, loving, patient, and just master who provides, protects, heals, comforts, guides, disciplines, changes me for the better, and so so much more.

"No one can serve two masters...You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24).

Yes, this is counter-culture.  This is unfortunately sometimes even counter-Christian-culture.  There is hope, though.  It's never too late to turn over a new leaf and cut up those credit cards.  I recommend a plan.  Crowne Financial and Dave Ramsey are great resources with Bible studies, lessons, and plans of action to help those who desire to be free from consumer debt.  And remember to pray and ask the Lord for help.

"Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.  Love does no harm to its neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8, 10).

May this be the debt we now accrue, and for the glory of God and the furthering of His kingdom.

"Oh praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the grave ... Jesus."


Ana Maria said...

Thanks so much for sharing Kristen! Matthew and I learned the hard way. Went through foreclosure and bankruptcy but now very happy to be credit card less for 2 yrs and the only debt we have now is one $1,800 medical bill. We try very hard to stick to our budget, live within our means (even below), tithe faithfully, pray continually, and to be good stewards of what God blesses us with each and every day. :)

Brandy @ Afterthoughts said...

Kristen, I am so happy for you! Being out of debt really IS freeing. We finished paying off school loans about four years ago now, and I was amazed at how light we felt--I hadn't realized the psychological and emotional effect of carrying the burden. I hope to enourage our children to never go into debt in the first place.

We love Dave Ramsey, too, though we haven't read a lot of his stuff. I think he is contributing so much to our culture in helping us realize that debt=slavery. We think it makes us free, but we are completely wrong. It is such a hard mentality to fight.

Years ago, we were at the homes of various people, and they had really nice stuff. When we got home, I asked Si what we were doing wrong. How is it that people had such beautifully decorated homes? Some of them were younger than us! What was wrong with us? It wasn't until later I realized that the difference was that these couples were buying on credit and we weren't. I had thought that there was something wrong with us that we couldn't afford the new couch or the trip to the beach. It turned out that they couldn't afford it either!

Kristen @ Dem Golden Apples said...

Ana, I know you are doing a great job girl!

Brandy, I agree. I think sometimes the issue is not wanting to wait on God for what we need and even some things that we want. It's so much better, though, when He makes a way for it! :)

Melanie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog party post. It's great to meet you. I enjoyed reading your responses to the party questions, and I loved this debt free post! Congratulations on getting out of the bondage to debt!!

My husband and I just paid off our last student loan and it feels so good to be debt free. We were both blessed to have grown up in a household where our godly fathers taught us how to manage our money well and have never had credit card debt.

It's crazy how the culture governs our thoughts in ways we don't realize. I have recently come to see the world's hand in my life in other areas, and I'm so glad God is releasing me from those molds!