Tag Archives: Finances

The Christian and Debt

Debt is all around us, and most of us have some type of debt currently.  I just read a statistic yesterday that less than 50% of all Americans have any net worth at all, meaning that less than 50% of us have monetary value (including assets) over the amount of monetary debt we owe.  Financially, then, most Americans are worth less than zero. Think about that.  Our country has changed over time and we are a nation of debtors living in a nation of debt.  Yes, debt has always, and will always be around, but we are now going into debt for things people in the past would never have considered signing away their future earnings for.

So, what does God teach us about debt, money, and how we can faithfully handle our finances? Now, obviously I’m not going to be able to cover every scripture or every situation.  There are many good resources out in the market today that do a better job covering all of that than I ever could.  But, I did want to cover a specific aspect of debt that people tend to wink at; Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.  Really think that over; you are a slave to anyone you have borrowed money from.  Do you owe a  bank, credit company, hospital, the government, etc…?

Whoever you owe money to, you are their slave.  You work for them.  Your money is theirs, and that is a Biblical concept.  In an age where we borrow money from all of these places, we have so many masters we can’t count them.  Remember where it says that we can’t serve two masters? Wow.  We just don’t think of these things, and what we want, we want it now.  If we need an automobile, why of course we take out a loan because the masters make it easy to make monthly payments.  We demand a college education, so we take out a loan because the masters act as though we’ll be able to easily pay it back.  Our very nation is sinking in debt, and whoever holds our debt is our master.  Scarey, hunh?

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another… If we owe someone money, we give them power over us, and it limits what we can do with our work.  Everything that we have comes from God, and our best position is to be free to use what God blesses us with how He sees fit.  If we owe money, our money is yoked to the lender.  Now, if someone is in need, the answer can be giving, not borrowing.

Giving someone money (or things) freely, with no strings is different than lending.  It by-passes usury, and hard feelings.  The other answers come in how we view the world and our needs.  When I taught logic and philosophy at college, I urged my students to sit and write out their actual needs; what do you need to live?  It’s a short list.  We live in a world that tells us we NEED all of these various things, but it is a lie.  Don’t believe the lie, live below your means, surround yourself with wise people, read wise words, control you money, don’t let it control you, etc…

We should strive to be aware, strive after Godly wisdom and Godly ways.  We should also chafe a little bit when contemplating who are master, or masters are, and finally ask ourselves if our money is serving us (and God), or are we serving it?

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Teaching the tithe; holding the church back?

I’m continually blown away with how many preachers get the tithe completely wrong, especially in regards to the New Testament church.  I’m frustrated because I believe if giving where taught correctly, we would have a totally different attitude toward money.  I believe that the teaching of the tithe actually stifles giving.  I can “hear” myriads of preachers groaning, and rushing to claim that teaching the tithe is the only way to insure a percentage of the congregation actually gives.  Meh, that’s no reason to downplay the truth.

The tithe as a tool is fine.  The tithe as an obligation or means to a blessing isn’t.  If you need to use the tithe as an “easy” way to portion out your money, or are called by God to tithe, that’s perfectly fine, I’m not directing this article at you.  There are so many preachers out there making a certain statement that makes me grind my teeth.  What is that statement?  “How much of your income is God’s?”  What do they say the answer is?  Ten percent.  Sometimes they think they go more detailed and say the first ten percent. Wrong answer.

All of it.  ALL of it is God’s, not yours.  Further, if you are a believer, your house is His, your car is His, every minute of your day is His, your business is His, etc…  If we don’t change the way we preach this, we are limiting our understanding of God, and His relationship with us.  You may be called at any moment to utilize anything you “own” for His good.  I’m not saying this figuratively.  It is all His.  What do you think presenting yourself a living sacrifice to Him is all about?

The OT tithes, that were in place for the Jewish people were for them specifically.  And, it was much much more than 10%.  As with the law in the OT, the tithe was to teach us, it was to foreshadow what was to come.  The tithe was so that God’s business could be carried out and that was centered on the temple and the priests.  Guess what, now you are the temple and you are the priests.

If your reaction to this is “Yes! Now I don’t have to give up anything!” then you’ve missed the entire point.  No longer are we legally required to give, now we are to pay attention to God’ guidance on a very personal level and give as we are called.  Free will, cheerful giving.  That is the model for the NT church.  The early church had to be reigned in from giving too much.  The were giving everything to the apostles and those in need and keeping nothing to live on.

I just heard one preacher say that if you tithe you’ll be amazed that you never lack for anything. Bull.  I know good believers who thought they had to tithe, doing so “religiously,” with good hearts and wind up broke and in debt.  Preachers need to preach financial accountability to their congregations.  If you need help, follow someone like Dave Ramsey’s plan in a secular way.  If you owe a debt to someone else, pay it.  If you owe bills, those ARE debt.  God wants you to be a good steward and pay your debt.  God also wants you to be a good steward and quit being a consumer driven by every want and fad.

You are to be responsible and take care of your family, and you are to be responsible so that when God calls on you to give to a cause, or a teacher, or preacher, or to help someone you will be able to do so.    Remember, you are handling His money, not yours.  Are you to give?  Yes.  There are a few examples of where money should go in the NT; to those that teach you in the faith (Galatians 6:6), to those in need (esp. to widows and orphans), and to those who ask.  How many of us really look at Matthew 5?

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Wow.  This only makes sense and only works if we realize all that we have is God’s.  We are to be responsible with what He gives us whether it’s money, time, a house, car, land, a phone, a camera, etc…  We need to be praying to see what God would like us to do with His things, and then yield to the urge of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it is no one’s business to know how much you make, or how much you give.  That is between you and God.  But, be warned, God knows your heart, and He obviously knows what He is communicating to you.  Pray, and pay attention and ask for His help in doing as He directs.

Give generously, give cheerfully, be responsible with your money and make it serve you, don’t serve it.  The tithe is not a requirement for the church, but excuse making doesn’t work either.  As you sow, so shall you reap, and God truly loves a “hilarious” giver, for it mirrors Him and uses what He has given you to further His will.  Could you imagine the things our church could do if everyone embraced this idea?

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