Coming from an almost two-decade long banking background, the issue of debt is a sensitive one for me and one that has caused me lots of personal debate in my Christian walk. More especially because my Christian life started as the former came to a sudden end.
During my banking tenure, I understood debt to be the solution to all cash problems and I not only sold this position passionately but believed it. Looking back, it also helped that my business growth targets were based on a growing debt number which not only paid the salaries but the performance bonuses too.
Understandably, I, who believed in debt as the road to financial liberty, was also quite healthily indebted. And the sudden end to a steady job forced me into a contrasting confrontation with debt. In this new engagement, I was rudely awakened to Proverbs 22:7 which says “the rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender”.
I have since questioned when debt is an appropriate solution and where it can be suitably applied. I must confess, I don’t have all the answers. Maybe I do have more questions than answers, but my background pleads for my word on this matter and so I share today’s two cents.
I have found that in the laws of Moses, all references to lending was for a respite to the poor. The laws also made provision for redemption of property and cancellation of debts. This, I believe, was to protect the poor families from perpetual poverty and oppression. By doing so, God remained sovereign among His people.
I find that in today’s consumer driven society, debt has become the tool to enable us to attain our material desires before we can afford them. In a quick search on the top reasons for personal credit, I was not surprised to find at the top of the list; shopping, entertainment, special occasions, car repairs and household bills. All these point to an undisciplined spending behavior and poor saving culture that are not able to sustain the shocks when calamities happen.
I also find that this undisciplined management of our earnings shows up again in the top reasons for bankruptcy that include; medical expenses, Job Loss, Poor use of Credit, Separation, and Unexpected expenses.
I observed from these sets of information that our approach to being driven to satisfy today’s needs at the expense of being better prepared for tomorrow’s uncertainties just as much drives us to debt as it does to bankruptcy.
With this background, I now return to my earlier question, when should anybody borrow? The scriptures tell me that only when I am completely poor, which the scriptures describe as one who is in need of all things. Unfortunately in today’s financial world nobody will lend to one who is poor but rather entice one who is wealthy to borrow. This is because debt is a tool used by the lender to enrich himself through the paid interest.
God has given me the grace to have been financially stable with increasing debts and poor with no lenders. I have found contentment in a debt free life depending on Jehovah Jireh for my provision that I never desire to take another penny in debt again in my life. Like Paul, I can almost say “I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
So why borrow? I have learned that there is more peace in being frugal and trusting God.
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