Summary: All of us at one time or another have taken on excessive, unnecessary debt. As a result we are caught in a trap that is very difficult to escape. This message shows us a way out.
“Escaping the Debt Trap”
1st Timothy 6:6-10
This morning I want to begin with a question…in fact several questions. First of all where do you go when you need financial advice? Who do you talk to when your finances are in trouble? The 3rd question I want you to answer by a show of hands. How many of you have ever struggled with your finances and did not have enough to pay your monthly obligations/bills? My hand is going up with yours. That’s everyone. So we are all in the same boat today. If you look to the right or to the left everyone in this building has been down this road. Now the question I didn’t ask and I don’t want you to answer is this…how many of you are in that boat right now?
Did you know…
The average family in America carries 9312.00 in credit card debt.
17% of families in America do not have enough money to be able to go just 7 days without a paycheck.
6 out of 10 people will retire with less than 10,000 a year.
Total consumer debt in 1980 was 1.3 trillion dollars. Today it is 15.6 trillion
Conflict over money is still the leading cause of divorce in America today.
Now here’s the deal. Debt is a trap that every American has fallen into at one time or another. It is a trap that is very inviting, very easy to get into and the problem is you are usually in way too deep when the trap goes off. Most traps snag you right in the beginning. This one is different. Here is how it works. This trap is called debt. We wander in usually because of greed or simply a lack of contentment. Tammy Faye Bakker used to say that shopping is much cheaper than a psychiatrist. We’re not happy with things as they are; we want more yet we don’t have the money to buy it. So instead of just saying no or let’s wait…it’s honey, let’s buy it now. And so you reach for your wallet or purse and you pull out that trusty credit card. And we’re so used to doing this that it comes out very easily. See how it just slides out. We don’t give it a 2nd thought. But then we are still not content. That is because things do not equal contentment. This word contentment is a lost word in our vocabulary today. This is the definition. “To be satisfied with who we are and with what we have; not wanting anything else.”
Contentment is an elusive thing. In fact one of the traps we fall into is this…we say, “if I just had that car I would be content.” “If I had that new dress or that new computer or whatever it might be, then I would be happy. Then you think I don’t have the money though. So what do we do? Simple. Pull out that credit card. It’s painless. At least till we get the bill. That’s why they call it a Discover card. Because when you get the bill you discover just how much you are going to owe. So we wander around looking for contentment, making purchase after purchase, looking for contentment but all we find is a trap. And now we’re stuck. We’re trapped. Fortunately the Bible gives us a way out.
vv. 6-8 It is more than interesting to me that as Paul talks about debt that he begins the conversation by talking about slavery. Do you see the connection? He starts by addressing everyone who is in slavery. He says in v. 2 “these are the things you are to teach them. Let’s look. He starts with a formula: Godliness +Contentment = great gain. Paul writes these words to a group in the church who had somehow come to the conclusion that the way to financial success was through godliness/religion. This should not surprise us that this attitude was present in the 1st century; what should surprise us is that it is still present in the 21st century-today.
You’ve heard the TV preachers who say this. They are all to prevalent on radio and television. They will tell you to give to God and that he will make you wealthy. But actually those pastors are the ones getting wealthy. Homes, cars, even jets. I saw this week that Kenneth Copeland’s church bought him a private jet…the cost 40 million dollars. Top of the line. He actually collects planes. He lives in a 6 million dollar home that is twice as large as this entire building. What these guys preach is that if you give enough you will be wealthy. This happened in the 1st century….it continues today.
Paul says it is not Godliness/religion (v.6) that brings financial gain. It is Godliness plus contentment. Remember our definition of contentment is “to be satisfied with who we are and what we have; not wanting anything else.