By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
A Bible verse I often hear misquoted is the verse that says, "money is the root of all kinds of evil." (1 Timothy 6:10). Some people quote it and say, "money is the root of all evil." While having too much or too little money can certainly bring us a host of issues, it is not the root of all evil. Money itself is not inherently evil. It is our reaction to it and our heart's desires. When people want to keep up with the Joneses or indulge in luxuries because they feel they deserve it, this can be a dangerous way to live as it can cause us to lose our basic necessities, destroy meaningful relationships and hinder us from an intimate relationship with Jesus. Here are five reasons why Christians should avoid debt:
1. It Makes Us a Slave to Debt
Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." When we've gotten into a bad habit of overspending, credit card companies bombard us with new offers, lower payments, and lower interest rates, beating us into spending and creating an even larger debt cycle. As Christians, Jesus doesn't want us to be a slave to anything, including debt. Jesus spoke about money more than heaven or hell combined. This is because money can trip us up easily and cause us not to live the abundant lives he wants us to live. Instead, we can start to live for money, creating an imaginary yoke of slavery around our necks. By living within our means, we were able to unburden ourselves from that imaginary yoke and live without someone else ruling over our lives.
2. It Robs Us of Freedom
With the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts, we welcome the spirit in every area of our lives. While God has given us money (and it is technically ours to do with it what we want), Christians who yield their lives to Lord will also ask him how they want his money to be spent. Christians understand that God gives and takes away. All the money we have is God's. The more we overspend and the more debt we get ourselves into, the more mental and emotional clutter we accumulate. This can cause us anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other mental health illnesses if we're not careful. Jesus promised a life of freedom if we abide in him. Giving Jesus complete control over our money is one area of our lives in which we know God will be faithful and provide for every need. We demonstrate the characteristics of God when we're able to give money to those in need freely.
3. You Can Give Less to the Places That Count the Most
The more we get caught in debt, the less we can give to places that count the most. Charities and other nonprofit organizations need our help. The more disposable income we have, the more we can give away to places genuinely trying to make positive change in their communities and worldwide. But when we owe credit card companies more than we can afford, it robs us of those opportunities. Why pay a credit card company that's making millions off of our lack of self-control when we could be giving to our local food bank or other areas that need our help the most?
4. It Demonstrates Poor Stewardship
God asks us to be good stewards of everything we've been given, including our money. Regardless of whether we have a little or a lot, we demonstrate to God how responsible we can be and how much he can entrust us with. We demonstrate this by how well we manage what we own, including our money. Sometimes what we spend cannot always be controlled—the high cost of gas and food forces us to spend more each month and these necessities. While there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to something special every now and again, we must be careful to harness our desires and set as a priority buying only what we need. If there's money left over, we can save that money and buy one special thing or treat ourselves to something small. But if we find we are splurging on larger items that we cannot afford to soothe a deep emotional need or wound, that is not being a good steward of what God has given us.
Take a moment and analyze what you spend. Take the next month and write down everything you buy. Do this with every category of spending you have, including food. Buying pre-packaged foods rather than making things from scratch could cost much more than if you buy simple ingredients and make things yourself. If you find you are taking the easy way out with meals, ask yourself, "is there any way I can change this behavior to save more on my monthly food budget?" By conducting a close analysis of what we spend, we may find we waste more money than we think, even in areas that can be justified as a necessity. At the end of our lives, we will be held responsible for everything we've done. This includes how we spend our money. It is easier to give an account for all the places and lives you've touched through your charitable giving than it is to justify why you overspent on overpriced and pre-packaged foods out of convenience.
5. It Shows Where Your Heart Is
The parable of the seed is a sober account of the seed of salvation that takes root in our hearts. Not every seed that God plants within us takes root, and wealth can certainly choke it out: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown" (Matthew 13:3-8).
When our heart is given over to making more money and getting rich to give the appearance of having luxury rather than yielding our lives to God's will, we will quickly realize our hearts are in the wrong place. Our lives have been a shell of what they could have been if we'd given full control over to God. Luke 12:33-34 says, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
If you're unsure where your heart is, analyze your thoughts. Do you find your thinking about money more than you should? Are you anxious or worried about how you will make ends meet or pay the bills? Have you contributed to your anxiety by overspending in areas where you shouldn't have?
As with anything, money can be a great tool to provide for our basic needs and help those in need. But without a good soul check, money can sometimes create a stumbling block for us. None of us is perfect, and we will make mistakes in every area of our lives, including money. But by taking an honest look at how we spend our money, we can make changes that will ultimately change our lives forever.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.