Summary: What is it we really treasure? Money, possessions or Christ?

February 1, 2009

Radical Living

1 Timothy 6:7-19

A man decides he’s going to pay off his credit card. He owes $7,500 and believes God does not want him to be in debt, so he decides he’ll cut up the card and pay off the $7,500 by making the minimum monthly payment until it’s gone. Your question — how long do you think it will take to pay off that credit card, assuming 18% interest and he never makes another credit card purchase during that time? Go ahead, tell your neighbor how long it will take.

Any answers? If you said 30 years and 2 months, you guessed right . . . If he’s still alive, he will have paid $23,000 in interest, thus paying over $30,000 for a $7500 loan. Now do you understand why credit card companies are willing to use all that postage to send those mailings to your home every week? Two years ago, earnings for credit card companies was over $14 billion and $1.4 trillion was spent with credit cards. Maybe we need to do some plastic surgery, and remove those cards.

Here’s another question — as of September 2008, how much is the average household credit card debt in the U.S.? It’s $9,300! Consider that the $9,300 does not include your electric and gas, water, garbage, cable, cell phone, gas, insurance and food bills. Oh . . . did I forget to mention that the $9,300 also does not include your mortgage, rent or car payments. WOW!! That’s a lot of money folks. It means that every family in this room owes on average, $9,300. Now, obviously some of you don’t owe that much and some of you owe more.

Let me take this one step further for you . . . According to a USA Today article in September 2008, “the average American household is now buried under mortgage debt of $84,911, car and tuition loans of $14,414, home equity loans of $10,062 and credit card debt of $8,565 — totaling, an outstanding debt of $117,952. The worst is that, according to Federal Reserve statistics, the average household savings this year will be only $392. By Gladys Edmunds (9/10/08)

Now, I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad about yourself or your financial situation. The purpose is to help you realize, claim and start to find solutions to the problems you may already be in. If you’re married and you’re having financial problems, you know what it’s like to argue about money.

I am so excited that we have about 30 people who are taking the Financial Peace classes. It’s a real commitment to make - - to take a good, hard look at your finances and then plan to do something about them. This class runs for 13 weeks, and from those who have already been through it, it has made a huge difference in their lives.

I did a little research on credit cards this week, and did you know that credit cards did not really become popular until the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. In 1983, just 20 years ago, the average credit card debt was below $1,000 per household. Do you understand what that means? In the past 20 years, credit card debt in this country has gone up, 737%. That’s an average of, are you ready, 36.85% per year increase in credit card debt. You know something’s got to give.

As we seek to bring glory and honor to God, let’s look at what Paul tells Timothy; and what it means for you and I.

Paul said “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” What a true statement. Yet, how many of us buy into the adage, ‘the one with the most toys, wins?’ When that happens we lose what Paul spoke of, in Philippians 4 . . . contentment. We’re no longer content with life, because we have to increase our standard and style of living. We no longer live modestly and comfortably; instead, we become extravagant; especially to the point where it hurts us in all aspects of our lives, it consumes our thinking, it wears us down physically, it depresses us, and tears at our soul.

Even when we look at the economy we are presently in, so many people have lost jobs, so many are struggling to make ends meet, to simply put food on the table, but even in the midst of our struggles, how much are we really willing to give up for the sake of our family, even for what God calls us to do.

Ann Landers had an interesting letter in one of her columns. She wrote about a man who earned a very good living, but refused to spend the money on anything. When he was dying, he said to his wife, “I want you to promise me one thing. Promise me that when I’m dead you’ll take my money and put it in my casket so that I can take it all with me.”

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