The Simplicity and Complexity of Debt

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Debt.

It’s a huge issue facing North American Christians and churches.  It is debt that is choking.  Straining.  And burdening so many people.

Debt is consuming resources like money, time, mental energy, and focus.  Those resources ought to be devoted to other more important things.  But they can’t because future funds have already been committed to pay for things people couldn’t afford yesterday.

Those in debt are feeling overwhelmed.  Directionless.  Burdened.  Stressed.  Frustrated.

None of this, not one part of it, is what God wants for us to be experiencing in our lives on earth.  This is the tragedy of debt, so we need to deal with this debt problem.  Now!   Debt is not a sin, but we can certainly see why the Bible doesn’t have positive things to say about debt.

If you’re in debt, I don’t say this to make you feel guilty or to make matters worse.  However, I do want to remind you how few positive things debt contributes to our lives.  When we recognize that, perhaps we’ll be motivated to change.

The Simplicity of the Debt Situation

On one level, the solution to debt is so simple.  It’s simple to say.  It’s simple to explain what needs to be done.  Here are some of those simple facts:

  • You must stop buying things on credit.
  • You must develop a financial purpose so that you don’t overspend.
  • You must spend less than you earn.
  • You must decrease expenses or increase income.
  • You must get out of credit card debt.

The Complexity of the Debt Situation

The complexity is that debt is a symptom of deeper underlying issues (as commonly pointed out by the late Larry Burkett).  It is hard to get out of debt because to deal with debt is to deal with habits.  You cannot change your debt situation if you don’t change your actions and habits.

I have a fitness book called Fit and Well.  The very first time I opened up that book I was frustrated by the first chapter that discussed topics related to changing habits.  I didn’t want a personal development book.  I didn’t need a motivation coach.  I wanted exercise and regiments that would help me get into shape.

But unless you can actually find away to motivate yourself to implement the teachings, you’ll fail. Thus, habit changes are an important part of getting in shape.

The best teachings in the world are useless until implemented.  No matter how simple it is to say how to get of of debt, it is hard to do because it involves changing how you spend your money, what you do with friends, and how you live your life.

The Cost Benefit Analysis

Jesus taught us the importance of counting the cost.  Lord willing, we’ve done that in our lives as we’ve accepted the cost of Christian discipleship.

I think if we considered what it will take to get out of debt, we’ll be more prepared for the struggles that come as we change what is necessary to shed our debt pounds.

You cannot get out of debt without paying a price.

  • The price may be saying no to something you’ve been wanting to buy for a long time.
  • The price might be saying no to certain activities that you currently love doing.
  • The price might mean putting in extra hours at work.
  • The price might be telling your kids that you’re struggling financially and so there will be changes in the home.
  • The price might be spending more time doing your budget.

The fact remains, in my opinion, that you cannot get out of debt without changing. It’s easy to say and hard to do.

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