Summary: One of the disciplines critical for us to practice in order to live debt free is to look beyond the immediate. You have to stay focused on God’s promised future. Debt is always about the immediate; it’s always seeking relief or immediate gratification
Have you ever made a purchase and then felt bad or depressed afterwards? Have you ever bought anything that you ended up never using? I just found one of the greatest pullover sweaters in my closet and said, "Where did this come from?" It still had the tags on it! I remembered buying it in Boston and it got lost in my closet. Have any of you ever had those kinds of experiences? Have you ever said to yourself, "Wow, if I had all of the money I’ve paid in interest . . ." "If I could have just the interest from all of the cars that I have ever purchased . . ." On January 1, 2006 credit card laws change. The government is helping all the corporations that are suffering because so many Americans are going bankrupt, so come January 1 whatever minimum payment you’re paying against your credit card debt doubles. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:7, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is always slave to the lender." Debt is about slavery. Jesus didn’t come to earth just to keep you out of hell. Jesus came to set you free from anything that keeps you in bondage. Galatians 5:1: "It’s for freedom that Christ has set you free, do not submit yourself again to the yoke of slavery." Debt is always about slavery.
We want to talk about how we can live debt free. There is hope. One of the disciplines critical for us to practice in order to live debt free is to look beyond the immediate. You have to stay focused on God’s promised future. Debt is always about the immediate; it’s always seeking relief or immediate gratification. I call it the demonic distraction. Anything that’s good takes going through the wilderness; you have to go through hard times to get there. That plastic credit card is so tempting because it’s instant gratification. The Spirit led Jesus through the wilderness. You say, "I can’t live on what I make right now. It’s too hard." The Spirit will lead you through the wilderness, and it’s not until you learn to live faithfully in the wilderness that God will take you to the next place. Jesus was in the wilderness, following his future purpose, and the devil showed up. The devil took him up on a hill and showed him the world and said, All of this is mine and it can be yours, Jesus, right now. You don’t have to go through all that discipline, delayed gratification, all of that counter-cultural stuff. You can have all the splendor of this right now." "What’s it cost?" "We’ll talk about that later. You can have it right now and we’ll settle later." Have it now, pay later - that is the demonic distraction. If you’re going to look beyond the immediate and keep this future focus, you have to prepare for the unexpected.
In our Scripture today, the woman was not prepared for the unexpected. Her husband suddenly died and they were not prepared financially. That’s what got her in trouble. You know that little bumper sticker "Dung Happens"? It does. It is just a fact that it’s going to happen.
Story of our air conditioner going out. So we had to cover the cost of restoring our finished basement, new carpet and all. Guess what? Dung happens.
Here’s the key if you’re keeping this future focus: you can’t live at your means. When you live at your means, you’re spending everything that comes in. You also can’t live on credit. That is spending what you don’t have, and that’s called living beyond your means. You have to live continually below your means. Here’s what’s going to happen if you don’t. When we mortgage our future, we jeopardize our children’s future. In 2 Kings 4:1 the woman said, "My husband has died, and I’m out of money. I can’t pay all this debt. We were a two-income family; now we are a one-income family and the creditors are coming after our children."
This is why you keep a future focus. Every day you’re trying to position your children for success. The average child coming out of college in America graduates with $20,000 in college debt (student loans). That does not count their credit card debt. So immediately, our 21-year-olds are starting out in a cycle of slavery. Some of you are saying, "Well, that’s okay. I don’t have any kids, so I’ve got more money to spend." No, as followers of Jesus, we’re responsible for all of God’s children.
The devil is always trying to get you to go for the instant, the immediate, because the devil’s purpose is to kill, rob and destroy. So if the devil can get you to buy now and pay later he robs life from your future. It’s not just about positioning our own biological children for success, but positioning all of God’s children for success in the world. We exist to be channels for God’s blessings in the lives of other people. I love what Paul said in Romans 13, "Owe nothing to anyone but love. Let no debt remain outstanding." Debt is not our friend. Seek to be debt free except for the continuing debt of love to one another. Biblically, loving other people is not, "Oh, I feel good about you; I have these warm feelings." Love is the action of sacrifice to meet the needs of other people, and you cannot have actions of sacrifice to meet other people’s needs if you’re in debt. You can’t be a giver if you’re a borrower.