Monday, August 29, 2011

The Slavery of Debt

Proverbs 22:7 "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender."

To be enslaved is to lose control over one's life, to lose the freedom to make choices. Unfortunately, during the past three decades, endebtedness has gained a respectability it does not deserve. It began back in the days when business schools taught, "Greed is good." And, greed became the standard of success. It was "smart" to laugh and say, "He who dies with the most toys wins."

The truth is he who dies with the most toys is still dead and the legacy he leaves behind will surely not honor God if acquisition has become his god.

Think of all the advertisements you have ever seen which promoted credit cards. Did even a single one promote thrift? Self-discipline? Selflessness. Of course not! Why not? Thrift and self-discipline, and selflessness honor God, not man. These attributes are a product of stewardship over selfishness.

Did even a single one of those advertisements show the user/abuser's sleepless nights or family arguments which arise from being head-over-heels in debt, the day to day uncertainty? No, not one.

Did any of those billboards or promotional mailers show the cardholder's loss of credibility when he or she had to declare bankruptcy when they couldn't repay what they had borrowed? No.

Have you noticed that borrowers were called "card holders," "clients," or "buyers?" They weren't called debtors or borrowers much less slaves. One financier said recently, "The borrower is king." Ask yourself what slave is a king.

The two real estate bubbles I have been aware of during my adult years have been characterized by an insatiable materialism. As prices rose on homes, so did the "creative lending practices." Things like balloon notes, adjustable rate mortgages, second and even third mortgages on brand new homes purchased by first time homeowners. Prospective "buyers" got into bidding wars in which prices rose far above the actual value or even replacement cost of the property. Once the buyers moved in, there were a hundred more "things we need to buy to complete the dream:" furniture, draperies, appliances, a new car to reflect properly on the new home. Many forgot to provide for insurance or taxes or maintenance and were foreclosed on because they did not fulfill these basic requirements of the lender. Satan does not disguise himself as the Prince of Darkness. He is the Prince of Darkness and the "things we need to buy" are just additional chains with which to enslave us.

When David and I married, we set a goal to be debtfree within fifteen years. By the Grace of God and His Provision, we were debtfree in seven. It changed the way we looked at the world. We have literally saved tens of thousands of dollars in interest which we have been able to invest in the lives of others. We've been able to sleep at night. We're not reluctant to answer the door or the phone. We don't dread opening the mail.

In Jeremiah 29:11, we find, "For I know the plans I have for you"--this is the Lord's declaration--"plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

That future, that hope do not include voluntary slavery to anything or anyone but the Lord.

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