Do you wonder, Christian friend, if we are losing our freedom? Are we serving money, or is it serving us? I know that if I hold anything too tightly, including money and possessions then it probably has me, rather than me having it. Sometimes we can become enslaved to our money simply because we “think” that it’s ours. Or sometimes, we become enslaved to it out of fear and insecurity – what happens if something unexpected happens, what if I don’t have enough money. How easy it is, as Christians, to say that we are trusting God with our eternal security and destiny, but not our financial security. Viewed that way, it seems pretty silly, doesn’t it? I have often heard people say, “It’s only money”. I wonder what would happen to this attitude if we changed the statement to say “It’s only HIS money”.
But there is more at stake here than money. We know that financial issues are the #1 cause of marital stress. A recent survey said that Canadians worry more about money than they do about family members or any other thing. I believe debt is a “spiritual battle” and therefore, debt will never allow us any freedom. Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt 6:24) We must daily choose whom we will serve.
Psalm 24:1 reminds us that, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”. The world may ask, “What does a man own”, but God asks “How does he use what he’s been given”. It’s been said when it comes to wealth we are only poor if we want more than we have.
If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true riches.(Luke 16:11) If we are in debt due to lifestyle spending, would God consider us faithful in the use of worldly wealth? Probably not. Jesus is teaching us that our faithfulness in worldly wealth leads to greater wealth in spiritual things. How can we lose if we are faithful in using the worldly wealth He gives? We win now and we win eternally. Isn’t that worth pursuing?
Let me say a quick word here about debt created by health or emergency issues. I believe that sometimes this type of debt is unavoidable. The debt I have been speaking to is not debt resulting from a large or unexpected health bill or some other major emergency that ate up all your assets. I pray that if you find yourself in such a situation that God will rescue you and that you find rest in Him.
Here are some current statistics on the state of debt in Canada.
- In 2003 Canadians paid 9.8% of our income to interest only on consumer debt while at the same time giving 2.3% to charity. That’s 8% on interest only on consumer debt. And “consumer debt” does not include mortgages! That is really lifestyle spending.
- Near the end of the 1980’s, the typical family saved just under 8% of its income. By the end of 1990’s just ten years later, that same household spent one tenth of a percent more than it earned.
- It was recently reported that 70% of families live pay cheque to pay cheque making minimum payment on credit cards. Most Canadians have only 2 weeks money ahead.
- Bankruptcy rates are the highest in our history.
- In a poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid, 48% of respondents said they did not believe it was necessary to pay off all of their debts before retirement. Among working Canadians, 85% said it was important to escape their debts first, but one-third of retirees are carrying debt. The average debt load among retirees is $35,000, but 14% of them have debts in excess of $100,000.
Except taken from After the Faith Decision, All Else is Stewardship by Lorne Jackson – available at www.cncf.ca
 I have used the above statistics in various seminars and talks I have given over the last two years. I no longer have the exact references to give accurate credit, but I can tell you that for the most part they are taken from Crown Financial Ministries material and/or The Barna Research Group. I invite you to visit both of their websites to view this information for yourself. www.crown.org and www.crowncanada.ca and www.barna.org