How did we do life in the days before credit cards? I remember having to withdraw large sums of money when going on holiday. At the beginning of the week, you’d feel like a millionaire, but by the end, you’d be really worried about running out of cash. The plastic can be our best friend – or our worst enemy. It’s just so easy to get into massive debt, beyond hope of ever getting straight. I wonder how many hours sleep have been lost to it? Yet full automatic payment by direct debit at the end of every month is so convenient. Which, if anything, is what the bible says about credit cards. “Settle the matter quickly…or else!” (Matthew 5:25-26)
The ‘or else’ might not be quite the same in our culture, but the principle is there. Settle the account within the terms, whether credit card or any other bill. And if you can’t afford to do that, you can’t afford the goods.
Yet debt is not an unforgivable sin. That’s not what these verses are about. They are concerned on keeping us safe and free. Debt makes you vulnerable, that’s the problem. If you have debt, you are not free. Why do you think the credit card companies are so keen to woo us? When they’ve got us in their grasp, we can end up working for them year on year, paying huge rates of interest ‘servicing’ the debt, and barely making an inroad on the actual amount borrowed. That is servitude, if not slavery!
God wants us to be free! That’s why he paid the price for our sins. He didn’t let Jesus go through that awful sacrifice on the cross for us just to end up entangled in a whole load of financial debt. He wants us to live free. If you are already in a financial mess (and it isn’t always your fault) face up to it, don’t hide it; deal with it. Make achievable arrangements to get that debt out of your life, even if it takes a while. There are organisations like Christians Against Poverty that may be able to help you get favourable terms. But get free.
Then stay free. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Ask your Heavenly Father. If you need it, he will give it you. He loves you so much. Maybe he wants you to learn to trust him more.
And for those who have plenty – who does your Heavenly Father want you to help?