Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Truth About Debt

I am a former small business owner that learned a lot about more about banking when I shut my business down that what I learned in business school. My concentration was in Finance!

When I learned about the bankruptcy bill in Congress, I decided to learn more about it because I realized that I may need to consider this route in the future if things didn't go well for me. What I found surprised me. When I began to do more research on the history of banking, and on the realities of borrowing, I found that the truth is really being hidden.

I am in the process of writing a book about this, and welcome comments that might help me with it. I will share bits and pieces of my research here and will hopefully peak your interest as well as give you some solutions you can use. My book will cover topics such as:

  • what the Bible says about money and debt,
  • how our economy is built on debt,
  • how our education system grooms us to be debtors,
  • how our legal system has gone awry,
  • ethics relating to money and debt,
  • how you can preserve your wealth in this system,
  • and what you can do to make a difference in our future as a country.

As an opening salvo on this topic, let me share with you some of what I've found in the Bible about money. Though this subject is not a popular one to be taught from pulpits, there are more Bible references to money than any other subject except “love.”

Basic Stewardship
This truth will shed a lot of light on why our country struggles with money and debt. Before we talk about debt, we need to understand money. The scriptures don’t define money, necessarily; they are more concerned with our attitudes toward money. Money is what we make it to be, so it makes sense to first examine attitudes.

The word “mammon” is used to refer to wealth in the bible. It is referred to as unrighteous in Luke 16:9,11 but if used properly can prove your trustworthiness. You are not to let it enslave you, because you cannot serve two masters. God is your master. If you let mammon be your master, you will be led to making decisions to serve that master, and it is opposed to God. (Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13). Borrowing makes mammon your master through a lender. In Luke 16:9 we are instructed to make friends by the use of mammon. When we are generous with it, it endears people to us. They become bound to us by gratitude. This use must further God’s purposes, not ours.

Our attitude toward mammon is first to learn to be a good steward of it. It tells us this in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. This scripture speaks of ministers of the Word, but uses a term applied to those who were entrusted with wealthy estates. As we are entrusted with God’s gifts to us, whether they are skills, knowledge, or money, we are expected to be good stewards (1 Peter 4:10)

It isn’t our money, its God’s money. He has entrusted it to us (Matthew 25:14-30). Other scriptures that illustrate this attitude is Proverbs 11:24 and 19:17. Matthew 6:19-21,24,33 tells us to seek His Kingdom first and to work for heavenly treasures for eternity. Wealth in this life is fleeting and can disappear quickly. You can easily allow the pursuit of wealth in this life to enslave you, especially when you have an appetite for material things and use credit to get them before you can afford them. (1 Timothy 6:18,19) Many of us have done this by purchasing expensive cars or homes, and find ourselves having to put both parents to work to pay the bills. There is nothing wrong with both parents working necessarily, but we still find ourselves stretched thin. I've done this, and I can see how I have let myself become enslaved by the debt I've taken on. However, if we are good stewards God rewards us as you can see in Luke 19:11-27 in the Parable of the Pounds and Matthew 25:14-30 the Parable of the Talents. Also see Matthew 21:33-46 for the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen and Luke 12:42-48.

It is our attitude toward money that makes a difference. If we have the right attitudes, we make better decisions as to what to do with the money we get, and ultimately end up with more financial security. I see this more clearly now that I have shut a business down, and look back at what went wrong. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that the borrower is a slave to the lender, and that is a principle that holds true in all cases to whatever degree you have in debt. The concept is that we shouldn't have to borrow to reach our objectives. It only seems necessary, as a result of peer pressure in today's society, and we try to rush results. We are sending a message to God that He hasn't provided enough for us, and we need to borrow. That isn't true, He has provided everything we need. We foolishly disagree with God when we borrow. Borrowing was originally a charitable act, for the poor, not a money making enterprise. In the process, we are taking higher risks with what God has given us and it is the banks that make most of the profit in the end. We put ourselves at the mercy of ungodly men who would destroy our lives, while enriching themselves.

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