Help My Doubt

Faith seeking reason- Mark 9:24

Great Expectations- Dealing With Debt 2

I was planning to come out and preach a hard sermon against debt today. Then I read Luke 16 and the parable of “The Shrewed Manager”. We need to remember that when we read the Bible we often read it with our own ideas about what God means or what we want Him to say. Pastors and regular Christians alike need to be careful check our hearts when we read to see if we are really listening and willing for God to change our minds about what we believe. I encourage you to listen with “a spirit of repentance” so that you might hear God’s voice and not sit comfortably “on your own understanding” as well.

All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you (Dt.28:45).

This is the verse which describes the message I wanted to preach today. Clearly (a), God described a relationship with His people in which they would be cursed with debt and poverty if they did not obey Him. God’s (b) desire was for His people to lend money to others and not to borrow. God wanted them to be the “head” and foreigners to be the “tail (v.44)” but God could only bless them if they “joyfully served Him with their prosperity (v.46)”.

For example, After reviewing much of this material for today’s message I remembered what God had also told (a) Moses about canceling debts every 7 years (Dt.15). God said that there should be no poor people among them but it was good for them to loan money to each other (without interest) and, if the debt was not paid off after 7 years to cancel the rest of it. Think about the (b) “Good Samaritan” who paid for the injured man’s hotel room for the night. Think about the money we are raising to put in a new (c) parking lot. God wants His children to live financially independent lives because only Christians with money can give money to charity!

However, I also have to admit that debt is not always God’s curse.

Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions (Lk.16:1).

Let’s note, first of all, that the “bad guy” in this parable is the lender (a) not the debtor. There were 2 debtors in this parable who owed a huge amount of oil and wheat but Jesus did not criticize them for being in debt. Instead, Jesus chose to criticize the manager (b) who was being “wasteful (v.1)” with his boss’s possessions. Of course, the point Jesus was trying to make was that the Jewish Pharisees were “in love with money (v.14)” and tried to “justify themselves in the eyes of men (v.15)”. In both the parable before and after this one Jesus similarly criticizes those who have money and waste it on selfish living. Therefore, I say again, being in debt is a bummer but the love of money is much worse in God’s eyes!

When it comes to debt and finances I have found that God is much more flexible and forgiving than I am. For example, there are some very good Christian financial counselors who already know this. One workbook I have for premarital counseling, called (a), “Before You Say ‘I do’”, has a chapter on money and advises that young couples take all their credit cards out and cut them up but keep one just for emergencies. Even (b) Larry Burkett, who is very conservative with money, says that it is normal, and okay, to draft a family budget and allow 5% of household income (in addition to home and car) for debt. God is much more flexible and forgiving than I am.

How about you?

1. Did you think it was normal for Christians to live in debt up to their necks? No, it’s not!

2. Did you think it was better to get out of debt than to be generous to the needy? It’s not.

Let’s do both according to God’s will and get out of debt in order to give more generously to those who are in need.

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October 5, 2009 - Posted by | Sermons

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