Summary: A biblical widow listened to the advice of Elisha to get out of debt. The techniques that she used can get us out of debt too.
March 18, 2001 2 Kings 4:1-7
“Breaking out of debtor’s prison”
In the American religion of materialism, there are two words more sacred than any other: "Charge it!" Yet, consider the following two scenarios in evaluating the intelligence of using plastic:
1. Ellin is 30 years old. She has a $3,500 balance on her Citibank credit card at 18% interest. She makes the minimum payment each month. How old will she be when she has her credit card paid off? [70 years old]
2. Susan and Tom needed a new washing machine, so they went to Sears and found one for $299. They got a Sears charge card and made the minimum payment each month. By the time the washing machine was paid off, how much did Susan and Tom actually pay for that washing machine? [$1,199]
When people used to be in debt with no means to pay, they would get thrown in jail for physical bondage. We don’t have that in the U.S. anymore, but we still have financial bondage. It’s to credit cards and high interest rates. And credit card companies are more than happy to get you into that bondage. They know that once you are there, it is awfully difficult to get out. rates. Here is a stack of the credit card and loan applications that I received in the mail just this week. Each of them has some specific way of trying to entice me to apply for their card. [give examples of some of them] Maybe some of you here have fallen into this trap and have gotten into some financial bondage. You are not alone.
In the book of 2 Kings, we are introduced to a woman who was going through a serious debt crisis. Let’s take a look at her situation and see what God’s answer to her need was. I think that we will be able to see some principles which will help us break out of the financial prison that we are in.
1. Evaluate the need.
In order to help you evaluate exactly what your need is, you must ask yourself 4 questions. What is your situation? What brought you to the situation that you are in? What will you lose if the situation doesn’t change? What is your attitude toward the situation?
What is your situation?
In this mother’s case, her situation was very desperate. Her husband was dead. Normally in that society, when the husband died, the sons took over the responsibility of providing for the family. But obviously, her sons were not old enough yet to take on that responsibility. The family was in deep debt with no means to pay. The person that they owed money to was not understanding or forgiving. He had probably come to the house, banged on the door, and said something like this: “Give me my money, or tomorrow, I’m coming to get your boys and sell them as slaves!” She had lost her husband; she was getting ready to lose her boys. She may not have even known about the debt that was owed until she was confronted by the creditors.
Many women are totally in the dark about the family finances or the finances of their husbands if they have separate bank accounts or separate credit cards. Then when their husband dies, they not only have the grief of the death to deal with, but they also have the financial mess that their husbands left behind to deal with as well. [That’s what happened to Judy Morris. When Jim, her husband, died, she found out that his life insurance and pension were still in the name of his first wife. Judy had been counting on that money to pay off some debts. Now it was unavailable.] That was the situation here.