Biblically Based Money Management Planning
Debt Valley Days, Part 2
Seven Debtly Snares
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
At the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy we are asked to distinguish basic needs, not desires. Yet, desires and greed tend to drive the engine of debt and over-spending.
1. Desire: What we want has an interesting way of turning into what we need. To avoid the confusion and properly distinguish the difference we must prioritize our purchases in three categories: Honesty is critical in the success of this exercise.
2. Deception: We often justify our purchases thinking, “I deserve it! I’ve done without for so long. My friends have already worn theirs out before I even got one! If I can just have it by Monday night’s game, I’ll be happy.”(Example: Wide Screen TV @ $2000.00) *Yes, we may deserve the merchandise, but not the stress that comes from not being able to make those payments!*
3. Doubt (Fear & Unbelief): We need to remember, God is our source, not Circus City. “Listen to advice and accept instruction?you will be wise.” Proverbs 19:20 Trade ignorance with a teachable spirit; permit Patience to do her perfect work in the realm of wise spending. God will give us the desires of our heart, unless that desire is going to put us in financial bondage.
4. Decision: We decide to go into debt, just as we decide to eat a dish of chocolates. Very few people are forced into purchasing an item by neglect or accident. Pressures to conform to this world overtake us at a counter and we make emotional decisions we cannot financially support. We sign our name on purpose to charge that card. Again, back to Desire, we must prioritize needs and desires. Spirit led believers are not subject to the bondage of Impulsive-Compulsive buying.
5. Delay: Poor financial planning may cause us to time our payments too close between pay periods. Thinking we can hold onto our creditor’s money a few more days, in case Jesus comes back, can be painfully expensive. Not only will we pay the same payment, we will have to pay an additional $30.00 late fee. If the late fee causes the balance to go over our charge limit, creditors will tack on an additional $30.00 over-limit fee, as if we had the extra $60.00 to give. And the finance charge? Another $40-100.00 plus. That could be over $100.00 paid toward a tithe or the balance itself! “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15.
6. Disobedience: Delaying our obedience to do what we know is right is Disobedience. Yet, in our need for a sense of control, we procrastinate. We operate in a spirit of defiance and rebellion to the Lord’s timing. We act out of our own stubbornness to not follow the Spirit Controlled lifestyle of a Christian-American. After going under for the third time, we question why God let us drown? His perfect will was for us to wait on Him and Honour Him in our finances. His permissive will permits us to drown in our misfortune only to the degree of our defiance. Just as Jesus said, “Be it unto you according to your faith,” we have to accept the implied spiritual principle here: “Be it unto you according to your rebellion, unbelief…” or whatever spirit is holding us in disobedience.
7. Damage: Damage could result from any event from physical illness or injury to marital devastation. Some life events simply happen. No party is guilty. No one signed for purchases they could not afford. Yet, because we know not the future, the goal is to never extend debt to the place that we cannot redeem ourselves should uncertain economic conditions send us in a whirlwind. During such snares we should be able to depend on our church family to temporarily rescue the suffering. Only when our church family is tithing and financially abounding is this even a possibility.
Symptoms of Debt:
The first hint of financial doom and danger would be a condition that produces failure:
- To Pay Balances Each Month
- To Save for Emergencies
- To Keep Reserve for Checking/Savings Accounts
- By Using Savings to Pay Credit Cards
- By Using One Credit Card to Pay Another
- By Avoiding the Mail, Past Due Notices
Should any of these symptoms develop, seek counsel at your earliest opportunity.
Expense of Debt
1. Extra Job: No more personal time and loss of freedom in decision making. Hold fast to your vision and genuine motive.
2. Emotional Stress: Less time spent in conversation with loved ones.
3. Family Conflict: Debt is a Leading cause of Divorce for Christian-Americans who
- Spend less than 8 minutes a day talking to their spouse
- Spend only 2 minutes a day talking to their children
4. High Interest Rates: Paying excess dollars for interest that could have purchased merchandise free and clear.
5. Loss of Opportunities: Immediate Depreciation! Unable to accept promotions, better jobs; afford Mission Trips; Unable to take advantage of investment opportunities.
6. Damaged Testimonies: Parents are unable to model faith in God’s provision. Pastors are unable to teach something they cannot demonstrate.
7. God’s Permissive Will: Perhaps the greatest cost of Debt is that it cheats us out of all that God had for us in His Perfect will. The overall stress to our health, relationships, and witness to the world defies all that God promised in Deuteronomy 28:1-15. His perfect plan states, “For I know the plans that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts to prosper you (Shalom), and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Seven Debtly Stages
Just as any rehab exit program, Debt has stages through which we often need to grow. The stages are similar, but with a financial twist.
1. Denial: This person does not believe that they have money problems. They just need a loan to get on their feet again. With drugs we call that a “Quick Fix”.
2. Anger: At this stage a person recognizes they have been “had” by creditors. They take on a Victim Mentality and want pity, not work or change, just “feel bad for my condition and help get these creditors off my back.” Does that mean “Pay these bills for me”?
3. Depression: Unable to find someone to rescue them, at this stage they are sure they are the only ones who ever had to suffer this Debt Trap. No one has ever had circumstances this complicated, with no way out, their life is ruined-over.
4. Bargaining: Although they cannot conceive how they will make the payments, they want a consolidation loan. This is the stage where someone gambles everything at a casino and is sure that if they just get another $50.00 they can take care of their losses. Without learning any new spending strategies, they are sure with one more chance they will never get into debt again.
5. Acceptance: This is the tiger from the jungle that reconciles himself to a cage, accepting that he will be captive to new rules in a zoo. He no longer has the freedom to run wild, but he will eat regularly and have shelter from storms and never worry again about creditors-oops-predators. This is the stage when we realize that with the Holy Spirit control, a teachable spirit, and a renewed sense of responsibility, we can work our way out of debt; not as fast as we worked our way into debt. Surprisingly, once this stage is cleared, the Lord hastens His Word over us and accelerates the exit.
6. Resurrection: This stage is when we start seeing our balances decline. A bright light begins to appear on the horizon and we feel in control again of our life, emotions, finances, and opportunities. We start looking for ways to invest wisely in sound, Biblical business practices. We invest in Kingdom-producing ventures and find ways that the Lord can bless us, as we are a blessing to others.
7. Rebirth: At this stage, our humbling experiences make us dynamic witnesses to others trapped in poverty and debt. We have valuable information to impart to others. We understand the essence of Working for a Giving- not just a living. Our lives are a walking, breathing financial success story, which is being led by the Wisdom and Knowledge of the Holy Spirit over our circumstances.