The Mustard Seed
Economics by The Book
Thus far in our series on financial security, we have found in the Bible four common-sense principles that any economist can endorse:
(1) Diligent work
(4) Avoid get-rich-quick schemes
Now as we further examine The Book, we encounter counsel which differs from standard operating procedures in most American homes and businesses.
(5) Avoid debt
Our culture believes that we can only survive and thrive on credit, forgetting that "credit" is a four-letter word (DEBT). We go into debt for cars, computers, furniture, vacations, and even gifts -- things that all decrease in value every day that passes.
To those of us who live in shadow of the nation's Capitol, "OPM" means the Office of Personnel Management -- the US government's HR department. But in the business world outside the Beltway, OPM means "Other People's Money." It is the creed that you borrow money to make money, presumably at a higher rate of return than your loan interest; you repay the loan and keep the difference. This practice is so common in the business world that the Bible's notion of living and working debt-free seems like heresy.
Proverbs 22.7 says, "The borrower is servant to the lender." When you are in debt, you work for the benefit of your creditor, not for your own need.
Debt also presumes on your future ability to pay. One Consumer Reports magazine subscriber complained, "What do you call it when the bank repossesses my truck, sells it for less than I owed, and then takes me to court to collect the difference?" CR replied, "It's called 'The Law.'"
The Apostle Paul wisely counsels us, Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. The NIV translation says it like this: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13.8)
The Bible also counsels us not to cosign for other people's debts. He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe. (Prov. 11.1) The Bible says that when you cosign, you obviously lack good judgment. (Prov. 17.18)
This also means paying your bills on time in full (Prov. 3.27-28). Whenever you use a credit card, pay your credit card bill IN FULL every month so you won't pay any interest charges. If you need to buy something that costs more money than you can spend, wait (learn patience and self restraint), save (earn interest instead of paying interest), pay cash only for what you can afford, and enjoy your freedom from financial bondage. When debt is truly unavoidable, work to pay it off as quickly as possible, taking advantage of every opportunity to pay back principal ahead of schedule.
~~ Pastor Ron
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Pastor Ron Friedrich