Debt Series: Part 1
Recently, our church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, experienced a significant milestone in the life of our community.We paid off a $24,000,000 mortgage, and our building is now debt free!
How did we do it?It wasn’t through a wealthy millionaire who felt generous. In fact, as a pastor, I have never encountered a tithe of that extravagant an amount.
But do you know what the reality is?I pastor plain old ordinary people who believe in their sacred commitment to God through tithing the first 10% of their income.
And because of the generosity of our congregation, we have been freed up of our debt and now are free to do more engaging ministry around the world.
I believe there is a level of grace that God has poured out on FBCG.He has smeared us with His grace, and I desire to see that grace get smeared on you, too.
In the past, when I have talked about debt within the confines of our church, I have provided statistics, such as the number of people in debt, how much they have, and how much debt Americans have.But, I have discovered over the years that when I share these numbers, we can often compare ourselves to what others are doing.Subsequently, when we find ourselves doing better than them, it leaves us with a lack of urgency and conviction to increase our generational wealth.
That will not be the case today. Therefore, I implore you to take the time to review and consider your own financial situation.
As we begin, let’s acknowledge that there are different parts to getting out of debt.And the first step is admitting that you are in debt.This is important because debt has become a routine part of life that people find perfectly acceptable.
But before we get started, I wanted to clarify a few introductory and foundational points:
Introductory Points About Debt
1. All debt is not a sin.
The following verses give great insight into what God wants for us.And that is for us to be the lender, not the borrower.
- “The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you;”(Deuteronomy 28:12-15, NKJV)
- “For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”(Deuteronomy 15:6, NKJV)
What does it mean to be a lender?In the book of Nehemiah, we see that Nehemiah helped bring deliverance to those caught in the web of paying high-interest rates or usury loans, and God provided a means by which he was able to give loans to those who were struggling with these astronomical debts.
- “I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain.Please, let us stop this usury!”(Nehemiah 5:10, NKJV)
In Matthew, Jesus talks about the concern of men and women not being wise in their financial decisions.We must not be a slave to unhealthy, unwise financial habits but thrive in the resources God has established.
- “So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.”(Matthew 25:27, NKJV)
2. We live in a country that promotes, encourages, and rewards debt,leaving too many people entrapped.
My wife and I have been married for 42 years. But unfortunately, when we were first married, like many others, we got into debt.And shortly after I began to learn the principles of finances, I started applying those things to my life.
When we finally decided to commit early in our marriage to get out of debt, I clearly remember God’s provision.You see, we had racked up a significant amount of debt. So when I received a hefty check of $20,000 in the mail, I had a choice: I could pay off the $15,000 of debt I had acquired or listen to my flesh telling me all the things I could do with $20,000!
However, I knew better than that.Listen, if God puts the resources in your hand to get out of debt, commit to getting out of debt!
3. Becoming debt free did not come because I hit the lottery.
Some saints believe that God will rain his abundant blessings on their life by playing the lotto.
We serve a God who is so mighty that you don’t have to play the numbers to be a winner!And you can trust that if you take one step of surrender toward God, He will take two steps toward you.
I. Borrowing makes you a slave to the lender.(Proverbs 22:7)
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Proverbs 22:7, NKJV
Every time you borrow, you become a servant to the person you borrow from.
For some, Jesus isn’t your master; Master Charge is. As a result, you are under the thumb of your credit cards.
The problem isn’t having a credit card – in fact; I still have credit cards and a mortgage.However, with each billing cycle, I pay my bill in full.
The problem I see with debt is what you’re borrowing for.You are charging for clothes, food, and gifts.(And can I be honest?Some of you go into significant debt at Christmas time trying to prove to someone you love them.If it takes you going into debt to show you care about them, something is seriously wrong!)
II. Make your requests known to God.(Philippians 4:6-7)
But,Pastor, what do I do if I have a problem or an emergency?
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV
Paul is encouraging the Philippians to stop being so anxious.And I believe it was a word for them then and is still a word for us today.
The problem with our culture is that a lot of people want something, and they want it now. We don’t wait and give God the opportunity for us to request it from Him and give Him space in our lives to work it out.
Give God time, be patient and make your requests known.Then, wait for God to provide for you!
One of the things I have seen throughout my life is when we needed something, we didn’t just go out and charge it. Instead, we prayed and asked God to make the resources available.And without hesitation, we have consistently witnessed God open doors and provide for us. As a result, wedidn’t have to go out and get into debt.
Early in our marriage, my beautiful wife, Trina, decided she wanted a China cabinet.She had envisioned just the one she wanted down to the color and the number of drawers and shelves, and she even dreamed of having one with lights built in.(Now, I didn’t understand that because no one comes to our house at night.However; she wanted it.)
When we went to the store to price it out, the store asked $3,000 for the particular model she had her eye on, and I looked at her and said, “Girl, you better pray about that one.” And she did.
Lo and behold, one of our neighbors was downsizing and one day knocked on our door and said, “I’ve got this china cabinet.Do y’all want it?”
Would you believe that it matched everything she wanted in the China cabinet?
See, some of you have to buy brand new.Well, not in my camp!
Some of you are so strapped in debt, but the God we serve wants you to be able to see His hand move on your behalf.I believe there is a covering over your life.And I know that God can change how you use the resources He has given you.
A Pastor’s Prayer For the Saints to Become Debt-Free
I pray for the people of God.And I ask that the same thing you have done in this church’s life, in my life, and in so many others’ lives, would be done in theirs as well.Father, smear your grace upon their lives as they commit to debt-free living, and give them the courage and strength to not charge another thing.Heavenly Father, give them the resources to get out of debt.But more importantly, I pray that you provide them with the mindset not to become a slave to the lender but that they would be a slave to you, Almighty God.
Open doors and make resources available.I pray, God, that You would allow and permit them to have unexpected resources come from unexpected places, and they would use it to get out of debt in Jesus’ name.
Cause checks to come in the mail that they didn’t anticipate.
Cause promotions at their job that they didn’t expect.
Cause miracles in their lives that they might see Your hand on their behalf.
And cause testimonies to rise up, allowing them to give You the glory and honor in Jesus’ name.
I pray you break the demon of debt in Jesus’ name!We repent our dependence on debt and commit to living debt-free! Father, thank you for your provision and wisdom to live freely.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.