Summary: How can avoid being in debt? And is it all up to me, or is God involved in helping me accomplish that? And what is the significance of the debts all being forgiven at the Feast of Tabernacles?
OPEN: Little Tommy told his mother he had decided what he wanted when he grew up.
“Well, honey,” she responded “what’s that?”
He said, “I’d like to have a million dollars, a big house, and no bathtubs.”
“No bathtubs?” asked his mother. “Why not?”
“Because,” he said,” when I grow up I want to be filthy rich.”
APPLY: Now Deuteronomy 15 is a unique passage in the Old Testament. God is telling Israel… that if they did things His way they might not be “filthy” rich” – but they’d be fairly well off. God told Israel that if they did things the way He said they should “… the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.” Deuteronomy 15:6
In other words, if God’s people followed God’s financial principles they’d be ok financially.
But what are those financial principles?
1st principle: God wants His people to limit their debt.
God recognized that people would borrow money and get into debt once in a while. But He didn’t want their debt to be such as would dominate their lives and destroy their potential. He decreed that debts were to be cancelled every 7 years. He also decreed that every 50th year was to be a Year Of Jubilee. In that year any property that had been sold was revert to its original owner.
My point is this: God never intended us to believe that debt is immoral. But God never intended us to believe that debt should be NORMAL.
Debt is not normal for us.
Debt is NOT where you and I should be.
God told Israel that if they obeyed him… they would “borrow from NONE.”
That’s where God wants us to be.
He wants you and I to get to the point where we don’t need to borrow.
But how do you get there?
How do I come to point where I’m not borrowing money?
And if I’m in debt how do I get out of it?
Well the only way to get out of debt is to be DELIBERATE about it. We can’t just presume we’ll get out of debt because we’re nice people.
One person once said getting out of debt is like drifting upstream. Do you think you could drift upstream? (give them time to respond)
You can’t do it can you? To go upstream, you’ve got pick up your paddle and deliberately work at going against the flow of the water. And just like you can’t “drift” upstream…. you can’t “drift out of debt”. You have pick up your paddle and work at getting out of debt.
So how do I do that?
The first rule of thumb in dealing with debt is this:
If you find yourself in a hole… quit digging.
Don’t borrow anymore.
Decide not to get any further into debt.
2nd rule of thumb is this:
Figure out where you are leaking money… and turn off the tap.
ILLUS: Years ago, doctors would test the sanity of mental patients with a test: They put their patient in a room that had a sink. Then they turned the faucet on. They put a stopper in the sink which caused the sink to overflow. Then the patient was handed a mop and closed the door.
If the patient mopped like crazy and never bothered to shut off the water or pull the plug, he was considered still insane.
But if he had enough sense to shut off the water pull the plug, and then mop up the water, he was considered capable of going home.
To avoid debt - you gotta turn off the tap. You got to quit spending money you can’t afford to spend. Otherwise you can find yourself being overwhelmed by a flood of more and more debt.
But how do we do that?
How do we keep from spending money we can’t afford to spend?
Well… we DO WITHOUT.
ILLUS: Out West there is a General Store on the edge of nowhere. As travelers stop in they are greeted by a sign that says "If you can’t find it in this store, just ask us about the item, and we’ll tell you how to get along without it."
As we pointed out last week: much of our debt is based on our WANTS rather than our needs.
People WANT to go out the movies. They want to go out to eat. Men want better cars, bigger houses, cable TV, Internet access, Big TVs and sound systems. Women want their hair done, their nails done, and all kinds of beauty aids. Kids want the most stylish clothes and expensive tennis shoes.
And the list could go on and on and on.