The Debt Problem
The world runs on debt. There’s no denying it. Buying almost anything more expensive than a TV is done with some kind of financing, though you can certainly finance the TV also. There are companies that exist solely to finance things you might want, even if they are only a few hundred dollars. Monthly payments are much easier than saving for something. After all, $25 a month for 2 years is much easier to do than $400 all at once.
I use the terms “finance” and “debt” because that’s the term our society uses most often. We hear it so often that we really don’t give a second thought to what it actually means. Car commercials constantly use “easy listening” techniques to sell low interest financing, and mortgage companies advertise their best interest rates. A more appropriate and true definition would be the word “slavery”.
Granted, our society has given the term “slavery” a totally different meaning than I mean here. I am not talking about the political and racial term that we hear about so often, and I don’t want to give that impression. When I say slavery, I want to connote a more Biblical definition.
Proverbs 22:7 provides a very simple idea of what it means to borrow from somebody else. It says “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
It is a very short-but-sweet verse, but there is a lot of meaning packed into it, most of which is completely foreign in our culture.
The borrower is the slave of the lender. I look at this verse and marvel. How many loans do I have? Student loans? Cars? A house? I am a slave to many lenders, and I am not alone.
America is addicted to debt. Hardly anybody has real savings and we are used to being instantly gratified by getting what we want now, with only a few signatures and maybe a down payment. The rich truly do rule over the poor, and being in debt means we have less than nothing. We are owned by those who loan to us because they control our future wealth and labor. Many, many hours of my working life are owned by others.
Even with all of this, we still have not mentioned compound interest, which is a relatively new invention. Compound interest is one of the most devious methods of extracting profit from a person ever devised by mankind. It has the potential to more than double the final cost of a loan. Yet our country is run by it, and we are almost all enslaved by it. Not only are we a slave to others by the amount of the original loan, but we are also expected to pay back more than double that amount! I realize that businesses exist to make money, but in this instance, I think it best to mind Scriptural wisdom.
I know this can all be overwhelming. There really is no immediate solution to getting out of debt because so much of our economy depends on it. We cannot save because we are in debt, and we are in debt because we cannot buy the things we need. For instance, I just bought a house and had to take out a mortgage, just like 99% of other Americans who buy a house. I certainly could not afford to buy the house out of pocket, so I had to take out a loan. I am now further in debt, but I would otherwise not have been able to own a home for many years.
So try not to get discouraged. The first step is becoming aware of the debts you have, and then try to slowly start doing something about it. In the next post, I’ll outline a few practical steps that I’ve used to start trying to get out of debt. It will take time, but just imagine being able to say “I am a slave to nobody but Christ!”