Why you should get out of debt

This world is backwards. Everyone loves to talk about using OPM (other people’s money) to purchase things or to gain wealth. I just don’t get it. Mathematically I understand the advantages of leveraging debt, but math cannot be used to understand every situation. As emotional creatures we were not designed to function as walking calculators making every decision based solely on the numbers.

While math plays a role in our financial lives, there are far more powerful truths, like discipline for example. The thing is that most of us know mathematically what we should do with our finances, yet because of a lack of discipline we don’t do it. So, what then needs fixing – the math or the discipline?

Another truth that really clarified to me why I needed to get out of debt is because the Bible says, “the borrower is slave to the lender.” Anyone who has been in deep debt can attest to the truth of this. Essentially, when you dig yourself in debt you give up control of your life. With each new debt you give more control to your lender and slowly become more of a slave.

You don’t have to be in debt

I always thought that debt was just a way of life. I accepted the fact that I would always have a car payment. Everyone has credit cards, so I just assumed if everyone was doing it, it was okay.

Then something changed. I decided that rather than always having a car payment, I wanted to never take out a loan on a car again. Sure, in the short term I might not be able to drive the car of my dreams, but what I found was that the little sacrifice has been and will continue to yield tremendous fruit.

Think about it – most of the companies advertising have some form of credit or financing they are offering. So, everything we hear from them is going to try to convince us that being in debt is normal, fun, and what the “cool kids are doing.”

It may be normal, but there is something so much better available to us.

Freedom

One of my greatest motivators for becoming debt-free has been the freedom. I just can not wait until I have every debt paid off and actually OWN my home. Paying bills will be so fun!

I just sit and smile when I think about the freedom of not living paycheck to paycheck. I used to live in fear knowing that if I was out of work for more than a week, I would be in big trouble financially. Personally, I don’t believe that God set us free in so many other areas, so that we could stay slaves in the area of debt.

Others are affected

As I have been on the journey to get out of debt I discovered that the reason for it is a lot larger than my freedom. While that has been a great motivator for me, I am now getting excited about the increased opportunity to give. Most everyone has experienced the joy of giving. The challenge is that we often want to give, but have all these other necessary expenses that have to be taken out first. If you are like most, it seems like there is never quite as much to give as you would like.

This is exactly why we need to get out from our debt. How can we expect to be big givers if we owe money to everyone else and don’t have anything ourselves?

Personally, I am not satisfied with how much I am currently giving. I have a feeling that I am not alone in this. I believe that a lot of the church has been limited in their ability to give because of debt. I believe that God is wanting something more from us. I believe that He is wanting us to become good stewards of our finances so that we will be able to better honor Him and others with our checkbooks.
















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14 Comments
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  1. GHolmes

    You nailed it. As a former addict to OPM, math is easy for me but not the discipline. Two years now of not using credit cards, it can be done. For years I bought into the myth that I would always have a car payment. No more. Thanks for your post today.

  2. @GHolmes
    I think the math vs. discipline thing is why Dave Ramsey is so popular – all the academics disagree with him mathematically. But since his program is based on the discipline of personal finance it is actually helping people that the academics can not!

  3. It was a great post, bob. Thanks for sharing it. It started some really great discussion!

  4. I’ve been involved in many discussions based on that “slave to the lender” passage in the Bible. First, there was no bankruptcy in Bible times; you actually became a slave. Other societies had debtors’ prisons. However, how exactly can you become a slave now? The worst part of bankruptcy for many people is not getting any MORE credit for the next year or two, and then facing the higher interest rates after that.

    Look at Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac (large banks in HUGE trouble right now). Do the borrowers look like slaves to you? Freddy and Fannie are getting taken out at the knees by those who owe them money. The banks are being controlled by the borrowers. I am a dedicated Christian, yet I think it’s pretty obvious that our society, while not entirely ethical, has nevertheless turned the tables on this passage of scripture.

  5. GHolmes

    When I got laid off in rural Oregon I had over 30,000 in unsecured debt, car payment, loan on my 403b and mortgage. Had 2 rental properties that both were vacant and not cash flowing. To be able to make ends I had to take a job in Seattle, sell rentals at loss. I was divorced Dad which meant I had to leave my son in rural Oregon to take a higher paying job just to cover my DEBT. Have since got my priorities straightened out but though literally not a slave those 60 hour weeks paying off DEBT sure made me feel like I was.

  6. @Jon
    thanks for sharing, I think you bring up an interesting point – I had always looked it as more of a figurative sense of slavery rather than actual slavery. But, although they may have become physical slaves back then, I think it is hard to argue that the bondage that debt can create on a person, family, or business isn’t like slavery… I can relate to what GHolmes is saying, while my situation wasn’t that bad, I still felt very trapped…

  7. Thanks Bob. I still agree with you, personal debt can definitely become an entrapment.

  8. I appreciate you addressing this issue because I have met with so many couples that believe they must acquire debt in order to live. I believe being in debt hinders you from doing things God asks of you.

  9. I have to agree with you 100%. The math may not but at the end of the month, math does not put food on the table. Being out of debt and living within your means does!

    Great blog, I will be back for more.

  10. @Dana
    you are right, there are too many people today stuck with the mindset that it is impossible to live without debt!

    @Dusty
    yea, I used to take pride in my math skills until I realized it didn’t matter how much I figured out mathematically, it only mattered what I actually did! – Which wasn’t much at the time ;)

  11. Linda Skelton

    Thank you for the post. I needed to read it and I know that you just reaffirmed what I needed to hear and know in my heart. Thank you!

  12. Keith Spears

    Great article. Still very timely.

  13. This article touches on something that I just recently realized – getting out of debt is about more than me. It’s definitely the bigger picture of being a good steward over what God has given me to do more for God’s kingdom, but even closer to home for me is the fact that I don’t want my children learn to live with debt and think that living from paycheck to paycheck is the way it has to be. I have started teaching them the things that I was never taught as a youth, to prayerfully get them on the right path now so when they become my age and/or parents they won’t have the same struggles I have. Thanks so much for your articles and all you’re help. You’ve been a tremendous blessing to me in this process. God Bless.

  14. Thanks for the article. It was very beneficial to me. For the first time I am giving serious thought to being able to live debt free. It makes perfect sense and is in line with other areas of my thinking. I have a strong desire to give more and without the debt I would be able to do that. Additionally, I believe being debt free will coincide with my desire to use all the money God has give me in a more efficient manner

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