Below is a five day devotional on debt from YouVersion.
Debt can cause so many problems both financially and spiritually. When too much debt is attained it is as if we become trapped, drowning in our finances. Our worries over our debt quickly consume our lives and our thoughts. We become servants to debt, and debt becomes our master. Debt can cause us to have tunnel vision, living life consumed by our financial worries instead putting God first in our lives. We can quickly forget about God and those around us who we care and love. Dallas Willard describes the spiritual bondage we encounter when we get in too much debt. “In our current world, a large part of the freedom that comes from frugality is freedom from the spiritual bondage caused by financial debt. This kind of debt is often incurred by buying things that are far from necessary, and its effect, when the amount is substantial, is to diminish our sense of worth, dim our hope for the future, and eliminate our sensitivity to the needs of others.”
(NIV) Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
(NIV) Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor,and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
(NIV) 1 Corinthians 7:23 “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.”
When we go into debt we are subject to the decision of those who we borrowed from. Whether be financial institutions or people who lent the money, we quickly find ourselves losing things we hold dearly due to our inability to manage our finances. Not only do we become slaves to our debt, but we find our selves also in a servitude to the wills and desires of our creditors. God teaches us to that he has blessed us and has given us everything we could possibly need to live a debt free life.
(NIV) 2 Kings 4:1 “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
(NIV) Nehemiah 5:3 “Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”
(NIV) Psalm 109:11 “May a creditor seize all he has;may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.”
(NIV) Isaiah 50:1 “This is what the Lord says:“Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away?Or to which of my creditors did I sell you?Because of your sins you were sold;because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.”
(NIV) Deuteronomy 28:44 “They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.”
The year of release put a stop to the familiar cycle of the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. Regardless of how much debt the poor may have incurred or the reason for the reason for that debt, the year of release provided a comprehensive program of debt cancellation and freedom from indentured servitude. This radical economic legislation was grounded in Israel’s identity as a nation with firsthand experience of God’s generosity. God wanted the memories of their release from bondage and inheritance of the promised land to be evident in Israel’s economic life. He wanted Israel to be a culture of radical generosity.
Stewardship theologian Ronald E. Vallet notes that both “Exodus 21:2-11 and Deuteronomy 15:1-11 spelled out provisions for the remission of debts every seven years.” Vallet points out that God went even further:
In Leviticus 25, those provision were incorporated into the practice of the Jubilee year. Every fifty yearsÑa Sabbath of Sabbaths, the year after seven sevensÑthe land was to have rest from cultivation. There was a homecoming in which family land that had been forfeited was to be returned. Debts were to be canceled; slaves were to be set free. The provisions were radical. In effect, all society was commanded to pursue God’s interest and passion for justice. Isaiah 61, especially verses 1-2 with their reference to “the year of the Lord’s favor,” is Isaiah’s allusion to the year of Jubilee, an idea that influenced the prophets greatly. Isaiah 61:8 sums up forcefully the divine passion for justice embedded in all scripture: “[For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them].”
Imagine what it would be like to experience a financial jubilee one time in your lifetime: to be able to start from a clean slate with no debts or obligations to be repaid. What would that freedom enable you to do?
(NIV) Proverbs 3:28 “Do not say to your neighbor,“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.”
(NIV) Psalm 37:21 “The wicked borrow and do not repay,but the righteous give generously;”
(NIV) 2 Kings 4:7 “She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
(NIV) Deuteronomy 15:1-2 “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.”
(NIV) Nehemiah 10:31 “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.”
(NIV) Philemon 1:18-19 “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.”
Not only does the Bible warn us of debt but it provides us of examples. These examples are meant to teach us about issues surrounding debt. Each example is unique and helps us see different aspects of indebtedness. Use this opportunity to reflect on these passage and explore how you would handle each situation these examples present.
(NIV) Matthew 18:32-33 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
(NIV) Luke 7:42 “Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
(NIV) Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
We are reminded of the liabilities debt brings upon us. One of burdens of borrowing and falling into debt is posting collateral. Today’s readings remind us that the dangers of putting down collateral does not just apply to us when we are in debt but it also warns of situations when we cosign for a family member, friend, or neighbor. Whether we are posting collateral as a security for ourselves or if we are cosigning, it is still a dangerous aspect of debt, and today’s reading reminds us that all situations will create a sense of slavery to debt. Making debt our master is not in the best interest of our spirit because God is our one true master and it is Him who we should follow and love.
(NIV) Proverbs 20:16 “Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.”
(NIV) Proverbs 11:15 “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.”
(NIV) Proverbs 22:26-27 “Do not be one who shakes hands in pledgeor puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay,your very bed will be snatched from under you.”
(NIV) Proverbs 6:1 “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,”
(NIV) Proverbs 6:3 “So do this, my son, to free yourself,since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:Go—to the point of exhaustion—and give your neighbor no rest!”
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