Deuteronomy 28:12 - The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
God has never wanted His people to live in a constant state of debt. It is important to God for His people to be debt-free because debt places someone other than God in the position of power over them.
Proverbs 22:7 - The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Just as God uses money to enhance and direct the lives of His people, Satan will use it to shackle people. Christians should learn to recognize the dangers of financial bondage.
I know of so many anointed Christians who are able to do so much for the Kingdom of God, but their hands are tied because they have to work long hours or work two jobs in order to balance their budget. I define financial bondage as the devil’s handcuffs.
Remember, Jesus has come to set us free. If we are not free, someone else is at work in our lives!
CASH OR CREDIT
Someone once said “If you do not have the cash you cannot afford the credit”. It is a proven fact that people tend to spend much more when using a credit card.
Credit cards are very convenient, but they should only be used if there is money available to completely pay off the credit card statement when it is due. It is advisable to only have one credit card.
HOW TO BECOME DEBT-FREE
The first step in battling debt is to identify the reasons for being in debt. Once the reasons have been identified and understood, an end can be made to those damaging behaviors.
1. Acknowledge you have a financial problem
It is important to acknowledge your debt situation before corrective measures can be implemented. Being in denial and not being ready to change will not be helpful.
2. Start somewhere
Proverbs 27:23 - Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herd.
Turning your debt situation around requires knowing the total amount of the debt owed. This includes credit card balances, mortgage balances, installment loan balances, car loans, etc.
A detailed list should be drawn up of all outstanding debt payable from a certain date. Make a detailed list of all debt and make sure it is a complete list. That is the starting point.
3. Seek wisdom
If you are in financial trouble, look for Godly counsel to help you out of your situation.
2 Kings 4:1-7 - A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves." So Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil." Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones." So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another vessel." So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest."
This woman was in severe financial stress. She did not go to the creditor and beg for mercy, but rather went to a man of God. She went to Elisha the prophet.
She gave him all the information that he needed in order to accurately understand the situation and she did not try to hide anything.
People tend to look for help from the wrong places. I am stunned when people who have marriage problems ask advice from those who have messed- up marriages. If you want advice for your marriage, find someone who has been married for thirty or forty years and if they are God-fearing, ask them for advice.
The same applies to finances. If you want to know how to plan your financial future, look for someone who loves God and who has been blessed financially for the past 20 or 30 years.
Remember, if you are in trouble, do not hide it. Seek advice.
4. Create a budget and follow it
Proverbs 27:12 - A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.
Planning is very important and will ensure long-term financial success. It is advisable to take time to create a realistic budget that can be applied and adhered to.
5. A budget is a roadmap to your future.
Most monthly expenses are regularly occurring fixed amounts such as tithes, bond payments, motor vehicles leases, etc. Make sure all your monthly regular expenses are accounted for before setting aside funds for unnecessary luxury items. Always save, even if it is a small amount every month. It establishes a habit and a discipline that will lead to greater savings in the future. Make that part of your budget and never miss out on doing this.
Too many people fall into the trap of only saving whatever is left over. That way you will never save!
6. Live within the budget
Learning to live within a budgeted income will make it easier to adjust should hard time be encountered. A budget is a roadmap to your future and can eventually include financial goals.
Take your budget with you when you pray and present it to the Lord. Make sure your tithe is the first item on the list. God will perform the supernatural time and time again.
7. Use debt to your advantage
There is good debt and bad debt. There is nothing wrong with taking out a mortgage to purchase your home, but make sure the price you are paying for the property is not inflated and pay a deposit of at least 20% of the purchase price. That loan will help you with your investment. As the loan amount decreases because of your repayments and inflation, you may be in a position to purchase a second property after a few years.
If you can, pay about 10% more on your monthly repayments on your home. You will be amazed at the difference it makes to your outstanding loan. It also builds up a cushion that can help you if you experience unforeseen expenses.
8. Make a commitment to becoming debt-free
Proverbs 21:5 - The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
Start immediately with a plan to reduce or eliminate outstanding debt. If you want to become debt-free, make a firm commitment not to make any more debt. You will see your debt erode away after two to three years.
If you have been experiencing financial bondage, destroy all credit cards in order to prevent future temptations. No further debt should be incurred in any form whatsoever.
9. Pay back what you owe
Psalm 37:21 - The wicked borrow and do not repay.
It is a Biblical principle to pay all debt incurred. Even if the debt is a seemingly impossible amount, make a plan to repay creditors even if it is less than the required monthly amount.
Make arrangements with your creditors and work out a repayment plan with them. You will be surprised how helpful they will be.
This is a long-term exercise that requires a lot of self-discipline. However, the rewards of debt-free living are enormous.
10. Sell your assets
Elisha told the widow to sell the oil so that she could pay her debts and to live on the rest.
2 Kings 4:7 - Go sell the oil and pay the debt, and live on the rest.
There is nothing wrong with selling things and starting over. After all, they are just things. Why keep them and be miserable and in trouble?
You can always buy another house, another car, or other furniture. Sometimes it is better to start over with a clean slate and to rebuild with the advantage of hindsight. Rather have no possessions and be free.
When I went into full-time ministry at the age of 44, I was in financial trouble because we planted a new church and we only had a handful of people. Every month I became further and further into debt. One day, I decided that if this continued, I would lose everything anyway. We sold everything we had which we had accumulated over 20 years and were left with nothing. We did not even own a car. But we became debt-free overnight. What a wonderful feeling.
Within a very short space of time, God restored what we had by more than 10-fold and He continues to bless us.
Remember – things are only things. They have no spiritual value. You cannot take them with you to the grave, and they are certainly not going to heaven with you! God wants you blessed by not being in financial bondage to anyone.