Financial Conviction: Freedom from Money, God’s Way
by Amber Stockton
How many times have you cringed when the phone rang because you dreaded the thought of speaking to a creditor on the other end of the line? Or, how often have you had ”buyer’s remorse” after making a purchase of something you didn’t absolutely need at the time, but you wanted it right now?
My husband and I spent the first few years of our marriage experiencing the latter. We were so caught up in providing for our home and our children, as well as making our own lives “comfortable,” that we didn’t take the time to plan and consider all options before making many purchases. Growing up, my parents often put purchases on a credit card or over-extended themselves, then paid the price later in high interest, debt collectors calling, or stress on their marriage. My husband had everything provided for him all the way through college then landed a nice job as a bachelor after college, and still had what he wanted.
Despite sound, Biblical wisdom and instruction from both of our parents, we came into our marriage with debt due to unwise choices during our 20’s. While we developed a plan to consolidate the debt, it didn’t disappear, and we continued to add to it, replacing what we paid down with more purchases. It felt like we were never getting ahead.
Then, our church launched a church-wide initiative, partnering with Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University, with a goal of walking alongside our members and helping 80% of them become debt-free. The focus behind it was the potential that existed for our members if we didn’t have debt hanging over our heads and controlling our lives. Just think. What could you do for Christ and to further God’s Kingdom if you had no debt?
My husband and I were convicted to sign up for the class. We knew we needed to do something. Neither one of us wanted to raise our children under a lifestyle of debt. It’s a vicious cycle that could cascade down to them and become a generational curse. I was already living a second generation of debt in my own family, and I wanted it to stop with me. So, together, we added our names to the roster and made time in our schedule to attend the weekly class.
The concept behind Dave Ramsey’s course is “living like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else.” That’s one of his catch phrases in his teachings. What it boils down to is living on a cash-only basis, naming every single dollar and cent that comes into your home through any source, budgeting and making a plan, so nothing takes you by surprise. Now, we all know life has its own plans, but when we take the time to plan for potential surprises by having what Dave calls an “emergency fund,” we minimize the chance of dependency on credit cards and save ourselves a lot of stress brought on by debt.
Using a common sense approach and “baby steps” in his course, Dave outlines how you can work, one step at a time, toward financial peace and freedom in Christ. According to Romans 13:8, we are to “let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” (NIV) The Bible doesn’t speak against borrowing money, but rather in allowing that debt to go unpaid for an extended period of time. This is the trap and pitfall of credit cards. It’s far too easy these days to swipe a card to get what we want and pay for it sometime “later.” Then, “later” gets pushed back time and time again, and the debt continues to build.
Another verse states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7 NIV) Whether we want to admit it or not, when we are in debt, we are a slave to that debt and to the person, bank, institution, or company, who loaned us the money. We are in bondage, and it can paralyze us from living to our fullest potential or even taking hold of all the blessings God has waiting for us.
Will God stop blessing us if we are in debt? No. He loves giving gifts to His children. But will some blessings remain out of reach while we are in bondage? Yes. It’s proven that we cannot serve two masters at once. (Matthew 6:24) Money is a master when we are in debt. And as long as we remain in debt, we cannot give our lives wholly in service to God.
Now, I’d love to say the road my husband and I have traveled since taking that course has been all smooth-sailing, but I can’t. We’ve been on a roller-coaster, with ups and downs and feeling at times that we’ve taken a step backward for every step forward. However, we have managed to reduce our overall debt, and it hasn’t increased, so we have made progress—just not the level of progress we had hoped. Still, we’re continuing to head in the right direction, and I am confident we’ll achieve our goal of being debt-free by age 40.
Like any other aspect of serving Christ, the road is not paved with smooth precision, free of potholes, bumps, cracks, and pitfalls. And when we make a determined effort to follow God’s principles set forth in His Word, the enemy is going to multiply his attacks in an attempt to throw us off course. But God promises to be with us, through good times and bad. If we commit to following Him, He’ll give us the strength to stick with it.
So, how far are you willing to go to achieve financial peace and freedom? Don’t hesitate. Get started today!
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning best-selling author, speaker, and virtual assistant who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and two Australian shepherds. She has sold 13 books so far with more on the horizon. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards, and in 2009, she was voted #1 favorite new author for Barbour’s Heartsong Presents book club