Without a doubt, debt is a thief. The average debt in America totals more than $96,371. If you allow it, debt can steal your dreams, your future, and more.
For some, the situation seems hopeless. However, having debt does not mean you can't have hope. For those of us in Christ, there are some things debt cannot steal from you.
What do I mean by calling? Primarily, the Bible speaks of God's call to salvation. This is evident in several Bible verses. Let's look at a couple of them:
"God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." - 1 Corinthians 1:9 (ESV)
"For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise, he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ." - 1 Corinthians 7:22 (ESV)
God's calling can also means his call to ministry. Here are a couple of verses that talk about that:
"Then Jesus said to them, ‘All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of th Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” - Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'" - Isaiah 6:8 (ESV)
Notice, that none of these verses say anything about debt. That's because debt has nothing to do with your calling. Can debt delay doing something like going overseas? Of course. But it doesn't cancel God's call to salvation or ministry.
Perhaps you have the desire to serve overseas. Or maybe you just want to be a faithful church member. However, your debt exceeds the limit allowed by the missions agency. Or you feel like you will have to work all the time to keep debt at bay. What do you do?
Certainly, you need a plan to get out of debt. But that doesn't mean you can't have an effective ministry here and now.
Just as you need a plan to get out of debt, you also need to plan for an effective ministry. After all, ministry doesn't just happen.
Don't allow debt to excuse you from sharing the love of Christ with others. You can still lead a church small group, serve your community, and intentionally proclaim the gospel.
Debt will steal your effectiveness only if you allow it. Instead, choose intentionality. You can knock out your debt and pursue ministry at the same time.
"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV)
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells the story of a foolish rich man. In the story, the man gains significant material wealth and finds that his barns can no longer hold everything.
Tear down the barns and build bigger ones.
He relaxes and rejoices that he will have no worries for years to come.
Oh, and he dies. God even says, "You fool! Tonight you die!" (paraphrased).
So, why did God call this guy a fool? It wasn't because he had wealth. It was because his hope was in his riches and not in God.
You may be thinking, "But I'm not rich! What does this have to do with me?"
You may not be rich. However, a lack of earthly wealth does not mean you haven't misplaced your hope. In other words, you might look at your debt and start to feel an inkling of hopelessness. If that's the case, you've placed your hope in your finances.
We place our hope in something much bigger than money. Money cannot give you true life and hope. Nor can it fill that empty void in your life. Only Christ can offer you true life and true hope.
Christ has given us immeasurable hope in him. He gives eternal life to all who believe in him. And nothing, not even debt, can separate us from him.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
You messed up again. How? You took out another loan. You maxed out another credit card. You've tried time and time again to stop. But you can't. Then you begin to wonder, could God still love me?
I have good news for you. You are not the only person in the whole wide world to mess up. In fact, the world is full of messed-up people. I'll even take it a little further. The church is full of imperfect people who mess up daily.
But did you know that's one of the most beautiful parts of being a Christian? Let me share a verse with you:
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Yes, even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And you know what else? This had nothing to do with our goodness or our potential for greatness. Here's another one:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
God saved us by his grace. Grace means he gave us something we didn't deserve. Ultimately, we don't deserve God's love and grace towards us. But he offers it to us anyway. And debt cannot steal God's love from you.
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
True, there are things debt can steal from you. If you let it.
But I also want to let you know that debt doesn't have to steal your hope. As Christians, our hope is not in the here and now. On the contrary, our ultimate hope is in what Christ did for us and in eternity to come.
However, God gives us resources to manage. The Bible calls this stewardship. Let's learn how to manage his resources well.
Image used with permission