Debt Free the Bible Way
Management by Bible Precepts
If you are continually
strapped financially and are sick and tired of it, God has help for
you. Many, today, live on borrowed time and borrowed money. The Bible
does not teach, as some propose that all debt is wicked and sinful. (See
the article called Owe No Man). However,
it does teach the undesirability of debt. Debt should be a last
resort. God may occasionally allow it in order to teach us discipline. However,
He never meant it to be a way of life.
Americans are a covetous
people who always want more and more stuff. Influenced by a multitude
of advertisements, they think they must have the latest, the best;
and it must be state of the art. This leads them into financial
disaster and keeps them from using their God-given funds to do the work
If you are looking
for answers to your financial problems, there are principles in the
Bible that can help you. However, you must be serious in their
application and obedient to the Lord in these matters. Are you
ready? If so, then read on.
to God First. I
will not discuss the doctrine of giving in any detail. I
will not tell you how much to give or where to give. But
you must give to God and He must get the firstfruits of your
labors—not the leftovers. Proverbs 3:9 tells us,
“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all
thine increase.” Do not expect God to help you if you refuse to
bless Him with a portion of your income.
Content With What You Have. Do you have enough to eat and clothes to wear? Then be content
with what you have. Lack of contentment is a sin. It is also
the greatest cause of unnecessary debt. If it is your sin, then
confess it to the Lord and let Him help you change your greedy ways. Meditate
on scriptures such as:
6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For
we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith
the Contentment Quiz to see how
content you are.
Your Income. I am not advocating any particular budgeting program. But all budgeting
plans are not complicated. There are very simple ways to budget
if you have never done it before. Budgeting is nothing more than
the careful use of your resources. It means knowing how much is
coming in and how much is going out. And it means knowing where
it is going. You are to work hard to know the condition of your
resources. Consider this verse.
27:23 “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well
to thy herds.”
are a steward of the resources God provides you. A steward cares
for that which belongs to another and must be ready to give an account
for his stewardship. Are you able to give an account for your use of
the money God has given you?
4:1 “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and
stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in
stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
Going Into Debt. This one point is the key to getting out of debt. Stop charging
on your account. Get rid of the credit cards if you cannot control
them. Even credit cards have to be paid off slightly faster than
the interest mounts up. So if you cease to borrow, you will one
day cease to owe. Yes, it takes discipline and it takes a plan. I
cannot guarantee you that no medical emergency or similar catastrophe
might ruin your plans. But God is in charge of these things and
can be trusted with your life. However, the alternative is the
slavery of debt. In the Bible, debt is a negative that should be
avoided if possible. Notice what God says.
22:7 “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to
13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth
another hath fulfilled the law.”
an Emergency Fund. I could never get out of debt until I created a fund for minor emergencies. Some people establish savings accounts. Others incorporate these
into complex budgets. It does not matter which method you use. But
begin to put aside for the things that break. Start with a small
amount but make it regular. Put that portion aside each paycheck. I
have found that $200-$300 in my emergency fund can often keep me from
instance, if your refrigerator stops working and you have no money
at all, what do you do? Most people pull out their credit card, go to Sears and buy a new one—and
feel fully justified in their debt. But the debt is not just the
new refrigerator. You wanted to make sure it did not break for
a while, so you got a good one…right? And now you will have to
pay for all the interest in addition to the basic cost. You may
end up paying $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 for that one appliance.
what if you had $250.00 in your emergency fund? Now you have
other options you did not when you were broke. You could check
into getting the old one repaired. Or, you might find a good
used one you could buy. I know. You try to justify the
new one. It has a warrantee. It will last for 20 years
(good luck). But the $250 can get you a refrigerator. Consider
the advantages. There is no interest to pay. There are
no future payments to make. And, if it breaks, you still are
not in any worse shape than you were. It is only our desire for
things that makes us want the new one. Search your own heart
and consider the teaching of the Bible.
30:24 “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they
are exceeding wise: 25 The ants are a people not strong, yet
they prepare their meat in the summer.”
calls the ants wise because they prepare their meat in the summer. Why
can’t we show a little of the same wisdom?
Expenses. I can already tell you…you think this is impossible for you. You
have already cut to the bone and nothing else can be cut. 99% of the
time, you will be wrong.
are some basic principles of personal finance that you must understand. They
are so simple that you think you already know them. But, in most
cases, people in trouble act as if they do not exist.
you spend more than your income, you are going into debt.
you continually spend more than your income, you are heading for disaster.
are only two ways fix this problem:
want a magically solution to our debt problems just as we want a magical
solution to our weight problems. There is only one way to lose
weight…by consuming fewer calories than we burn up. But we always
want an easier plan. But, in order to be magical, a program has
to be complex. After all, if we can understand it, it must not
have the magic. O, yes, we can play tricks on our bodies. Through drugs or imbalanced diets, we can trick it into not consuming
the calories we put in our mouths. But there are dangers in these
our finances we want the same magic. But in the long run, there
is only one way—to spend less than your income. This brings us
back to the point of this section: you need to seriously look
at your expenses to see what can be cut back. I am convinced
that one dollar saved is equivalent to increasing your income by two
dollars. A portion of the extra income should be given to the
Lord and the government will surely get its part. Enough extra
dollars will raise you into a higher tax bracket (America) and often
brings extra expenses. And, finally, extra income usually gets
spent…I have an extra $100 a month so I can get that car I always wanted. Extra
income almost never gets people out of debt. That comes by reducing
on debt is probably the greatest waster of your money. So, by
refusing new debt, you will begin to reduce your expenses. But
there are other areas to consider. Look at the following questions:
your repetitive expenses like phone extras, cable TV, health club,
etc. Do you really need them?
much are you spending on pets? Could you give them to a friend?
much do you really spend on your hobbies? Don’t guess. Add
it up. What could you cut?
you spend on eating out?
do you spend on entertainment? Sports?
much do you spend on vacation? Is it really necessary? Could
you stay at home and take short trips in your surrounding area this
year? Could you go to state parks instead of expensive amusement
you drive a cheaper car, live in a smaller house, eat more beans and
potatoes, buy fewer pre-prepared foods?
hear your protests. That only demonstrates the problem. You
are not unable to decrease your expenses. You are unwilling. If
you are out of debt, then God allows certain extras. But if you
are deeply in debt, something has to give.
13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth
another hath fulfilled the law.”
Learn to Judge Real Value
2:15 “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is
judged of no man.”
of wisdom is learning how to discern. The world will sell you
on something being 50% off. Wisdom will teach you that you can
save the entire 100% if you do not purchase it at all. Ask God
to give you wisdom in financial matters (see James 1:5). The person selling you something is not looking out for you but for himself. Learn
to judge bargains and deals for what they really are.
extended warrantees that are offered with about everything you buy
now are a good case-in-point. Have you ever wondered why these warrantees are pushed so much with about
everything you purchase? Is it because they are such a good bargain for
sell these to you because they provide such good profit for the company. On
the whole, people gain much less from these warrantees than they spend. You
can absorb an occasional failure of an appliance for much less than
it costs to have warrantees on everything.
waste of money is interest—especially the level of interest most people
pay on credit cards. You might be surprised at how much money a month you might have for other
things if you had not dug yourself into so much debt. Do the research
and find out. Dollars spent on interest are thrown away.
if you find a thingamajig that you would like to have at 40%
off and put it on your credit card and pay it off at minimum payment? If
it normally cost $100.00, you got it for a bargain at $60.00, right? Wrong!
The interest on your credit card will probably double the initial cost
of the item so you will probably pay about $120.00 for it.
you run down to a sale where the newspaper ad says that everything
in the store is marked up 20%? Of course not. But when you put an item on credit, you might as
well be doing the same thing.
mothers are another example where people often misjudge value. I
will not deny that ladies who make a good income may add considerable
to the household income. However, many mothers of young children
work because they are convinced they must have the money—even though
their husbands bring in a decent income themselves. These ladies
often work for little more than minimum wage. In actuality, they
often work for little or nothing. Because they are working, they
pay for day care, extra car expense, extra clothes expense, extra doctor
and medicine bills (the children will catch more in a day care), extra
food expense (more easy-to-serve foods and more meals out) and more
spending splurges because of stress. In addition, their wages
may put the family into a higher tax bracket. After these items
are considered, many moms make about a dollar an hour for their efforts. Add
it up for yourself.
Your Financial Priorities. According to Matthew 6:33, we are to seek first the kingdom of God. So,
what are your financial priorities? Do you think you have to have
some things that are really not necessary? Make sure your financial
priorities line up with God’s priorities for you. Make a list of
your major financial goals in the order of importance. Now pray
about them to see if they are the will of the Lord for your life.
the Tough Decisions on Purpose. Christians
need to judge the situation with God’s help and make the right
decisions. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 states:
all things; hold fast that which is good.”
have a tendency to hide our heads in the sand when it comes to financial
problems. We believe that if we ignore it long enough, it will
just go away. But it doesn’t. While we pretend it isn’t
there, we just get deeper and deeper in trouble. What could have
been handled with minimum adjustments becomes a major mess.
key is to recognize the problem before it gets out of hand. If
your income continuously falls below your expenditures, you are already
in trouble. Don’t wait until the debts pile a mountain high. Do
at your situation and make the tough decisions. You are a steward
of the resources God has given you. Get that new job. Sell
that second car. Cut the entertainment. As hard as it seems,
it is a world easier now than it will be later.
Good Times Plan for Lean Times. To some, this may seem to be the opposite of faith. However, many
do not understand the Biblical meaning of faith. Faith is taking
God at His word and acting on His promises as if they were present reality. This
may mean that you step out in action on God’s leadership without visible
support for your actions. But it also means that you follow the
word of the Lord because you know it is true. Listen to what God’s
ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer” – Proverbs
wants us to prepare for winter. That is one of His definitions
of wisdom. When your income is good; when things are going well—that
is the time to put some resources aside for the lean times. Too
many people get a $50 a week raise and then go out and commit themselves
to $60 a week extra expense. Look ahead. Plan for tomorrow. This
is not ungodly. It is God’s plan!
Your Life. John
warns us against loving the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Yet,
that is what we often do. We want nice clothes, nice furniture,
nice cars, etc., etc., etc. We are never content with what
we have now. But many of these little extras add up to
a lot of money. You can often save quite a bit of money
by simplifying your life. This is a special problem in
America—the land of plenty. Please look at your life and
see where unneeded things can be cut back. Simpler is less
complicated and often much more peaceful. You may learn
to appreciate having and doing less.
New Skills. God’s people should do their best at whatever they do. This means
developing your abilities and learning new ones. Colossians 3:23
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”
You cannot do your best if you do not develop your talents and expand
can also learn home skills that can save you money. Learn to
do simple things on your car. Do certain things around the house. Make
it. Fix it. Grow it. Bake it. Can it. There are a hundred ways and more that you can save money by doing it
a Job or Career Change. Some people stay in dead-end situations even after it becomes plain to
them that there is no future for them where they are. In order
to take care of your family, you may need to totally change your career. Or,
you may need to go back to school to prepare for a new line of work. The
Lord told the Israelites that they had compassed (gone around) a particular
mountain long enough (Deuteronomy 2:3). They were told to turn
northward and head out for new territory. This could also be God’s
will for your life. Listen to Him.
Be Blind to the Alternatives. We
tend to lean to our own understanding; to see things as we have
always seen them. God wants us to look beyond our reasoning and
see other possibilities.
in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs
good rule of thumb: There are usually three times as many alternatives
as you think there are. Keep looking. Keep praying. God
has a way for you to get through.
we do not see alternatives because we have already decided that they
will not work. Remember, the thing you are sure you cannot do might not be all that
bad. Check your heart and make sure that you are not rebellious. You
may be blinded to God’s will by your own stubborn heart.
to Others in Need. In times of financial troubles, we tend to get selfish and see our needs
only. But this is a time when you especially need to be sensitive
to the needs of others. That helping hand may be in the form of
work or encouragement. You do not have to have money to care for
the needs of others. But that is one of the best ways to assure
God’s concern for your needs.
is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth
more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall
be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” – Proverbs
that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which
he hath given will he pay him again.” – Proverbs 19:17
These precepts are
not meant to be a detailed program of personal finance. Rather,
they are given for the purpose of general direction. In most cases,
financial stability requires nothing more than the faithful practice of
biblical principles. First, you must know these biblical
precepts (as given briefly above). Second,
you must discipline yourself to practice them. This requires you to
submit to the will of God in your life. Third,
you must faithfully practice them with patience until God blesses.
final note: it
may not be God’s will for every one to be financially stable. He
may allow sickness or financial disaster to occur for His own
purposes. He may force us to look to Him in faith through
financial problems. The precepts given above are general
in nature and God often intervenes. We obey them because
they are God’s will, not in order to be rich in this world. God
must always be the center of all that we do. Do not set
your eyes on the riches of this world. You cannot serve
God and mammon (material possessions).