“I’ve got to have it now!” is the self-indulgent demand of our day, and countless individuals and families have the debt to prove it. Taking trips and buying products they really cannot afford, these folks find themselves in financial bondage.
Thanks to easy credit and a lack of self-discipline, many Christians find themselves in such straits. They have bought into the advertising mantra that they deserve to drive a nice automobile, take a relaxing vacation, enjoy a big screen television, or display a new wardrobe. Their children deserve to experience Disney World. Willingly accepting such thinking as truth, they make the purchase or take the trip, bills pile up, excuses are made, reputations are lost, and unhappiness returns. Unfortunately, the cycle is repeated as they again seek happiness through acquisition and indulgence.
What we often fail to recognize is that this lifestyle is a symptom of worldliness. We look to the things of this world to bring happiness and a sense of fulfillment. We sacrifice honesty and prudence and reputation on the altar of pleasure. John warned Christians, not unbelievers, about worldliness: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Many Christians know the answers to solving financial problems and can tell you what they need to do. Like too many, they fail to live by what they know, willingly believing the lie that they deserve whatever they want to buy or want to do.
The lesson not lived is that of contentment. The apostle Paul instructs: “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). We know those words and give mental assent to them, but too often we fail to live them. Discontented with merely having our needs satisfied, we buy and do what we cannot afford and find ourselves in financial bondage. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
If we get so distraught over debt that we start to design ways not to repay what we owe, the Bible gives us this stark reminder: “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives” (Psalm 37:21). If you have gotten into debt in an attempt to satisfy your wants, be honest and confess to God that you have sinned. You have sought satisfaction in what you could not afford. A book that I recommend and have given to others is The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. It contains lots of concrete counsel on how to get out of debt and live debt free.
There is nothing wrong with buying a product or taking a trip. The problem occurs when such things put one into debt. Rather than attempting to find our fulfillment in purchases or trips, may we find our fulfillment in God alone. The Scriptures remind us, “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm” (Proverbs 19:23).