This is an article written by Bob Brooks over at prudentmoney.com. Bob has a great website, blog and radio show weekdays from 3:30 to 4:00 pm on 91.7 FM KVTT (Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas). Check out his website and radio show podcast now! Subscribe to his feed here
There are many people who are faced with the daunting situation of being overloaded with credit card payments, mortgage payments, and car payments. Well, we know the financial downside from walking away from a mortgage. You lose your house. We also know the downside for not making a car payment. You lose your way around. What about the downside to walking away from credit card debt? Since there is nothing held in collateral, is there really a downside?
We can talk in terms of money, obligations, contracts and everything else that could go into that answer. I want to look at the answer to that question from a Biblical perspective.
Let’s first take a look at what the Bible says about debt. There is one verse in particular that I like to turn to that I feel sums it all up.
Proverbs 22:7 says:
Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
This verse really illustrates the point that the Bible makes about debt. God wants 100% of us. To put it in context of the verse, it is tough to be a servant to God and be a servant to a lender at the same time. When you are able to handle your debt comfortably without problems, there is no servant relationship. When you have a debt problem, you are a slave to your debt.
God wants us to have the freedom to answer His call and follow His direction. Debt can limit your freedom. Debt can preoccupy your life. Managing debt can create worry. It can force a person to work long hours just to make the payments. Debt can occupy a great deal of our minds.
A great deal of debt limits your ability to freely give of your time and money to those who are in need. Remember, one of our primary responsibilities as a Christian is to serve. Living a debt-filled life will interfere with the freedom to go and do whatever God wants of you. To be the type of servant that God wants requires a lot of freedom that debt ultimately takes away.
So, let’s say you are in a spot where you finally got that message. What do you do now?
- Ask God to change your life so that you never get in this situation again
- Commit that you will do everything possible to get out of debt
- Pray and ask for those answers – It might be that you are forced to work extra hours for a period of a few years. It might be that you need to downsize. Maybe your possessions have become bigger than God in your life.
So, back to the original question, should you just walk away from your credit cards if the obligation has become too big? You have one of two options in that case. First, you could walk away. The problem is that energy and freedom zapping debt problem just became a bigger monster as you deal with debt collectors, bad credit scores, potential lawsuits, etc. Incidentally, walking away will always haunt you. You always owe the debt.
Second, you can do everything possible from getting an extra job to downsizing to cutting back and get out of debt once and for all. Yes, in the short-run, you limit your freedom. If the motivation from doing all of that is to get into a relationship with God where you can give 100%, God will honor those decisions. Plus you are doing the right thing by getting out of debt.
Getting into debt was fun and easy. It is the process of getting out of debt where you grow as an individual and most importantly grow in your relationship with God to levels you never thought possible.
In short, the Bible talks about the dangers of debt and highly discourages its use. At the same time, it does not call debt a sin. Anything to where we put our time, commitment, and attention on that interferes and or limits our relationship with God can become a sin. That is when debt becomes the problem.