Dealing With Debt
- Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Debt. For some people, it's as certain as death and taxes. Often, it may even appear to be a "necessary evil" along the road to financial security.
As debt increases, it tends to follow a similar pattern: a credit card here, a loan there, a mortgage, maybe an occasional impulse purchase, and before you know it, you're sitting atop thousands upon thousands of dollars of unpaid bills.
These bills come every day, disguised in nondescript envelopes and transported with a smile by the postman. But hiding inside those envelopes is your own personal prison, preventing you from living with freedom and confidence.
Debt leads to stress, worry, and anxiety. It affects every area of life, from your friendships to your career. And, as all too many couples discover, unresolved debt can ruin a marriage.
But in the midst of this financial despair, there is hope. God did not intend for us to live in debt. He has a plan for our finances. He wants us to save and spend our money wisely. And, more importantly, He expects us to give back a portion to Him. Only then, when we surrender our finances to God through tithing, will we begin to experience the blessings He has in store for us.
We have a choice: follow the world's financial plan or follow God's financial plan. The world tells us to take, take, take. Society wants us to stockpile everything we obtain into a reservoir of material goods.
But it's a cycle that never ends. The more we get, the more we think we need. And then, when we're gone, what do we have to show for our lives? Our desires are never satisfied because, in trying to seek happiness in material things, we have forgotten our ultimate need-God. Searching for meaning outside of God is an empty, hollow pursuit.
God's plan for us is much different than the world's. While society tells us to take and accumulate, God tells us to receive and redistribute. "For by your standard of measure," Luke 6:38 says, "it will be measured to you in return." Whatever we give, God will bless us accordingly. Will He always bless us financially? No. But we will see His presence in our lives. God will begin to provide for us in ways that we never thought possible; all we must do is give.
Instead of stockpiling our earnings, God asks us to tithe, to give to others, and to do so cheerfully, not begrudgingly. As 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us, "God loves a cheerful giver." He wants to bless us, to use us as a channel- not a reservoir-so He can utilize us to bless others.
What do we give to God? In His Word, He asks us to give back to Him at least ten percent of everything we earn. For every dime we make, God wants a penny. And he wants the first penny, not the last; we should never give God our leftovers (Proverbs 3:9). As the saying goes, "Give God what's right, not what's left." If we don't tithe, we are taking from God what is already His (Haggai 2:8). Malachi 3:8 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings." We are actually robbing our Creator!
God's plan is simple: give and receive. Sometimes it's hard for our mere human minds to understand how God works. How can we give when we're in debt, when we can't even make bill payments on time?
But that's where trust enters the picture. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). All we must do is trust in God, and He will provide for our needs.
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Make sure you tune in for this week's message from Dr. Stanley. For expanded studies and outlines of this week's sermon, visit the In Touch Web site.
Do your teenagers know about Teen Connection-the official teen outreach of In Touch? The latest interviews include Philip Yancey, Point of Grace, ZOEGirl and Rebecca St. James. Visit Teen Connection at www.teen-connection.info.
Has Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ made you curious to learn more? Visit our resource page for free downloadable sermons by Dr. Stanley on the crucifixion, the resurrection, and salvation at www.intouch.org/thepassion
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