March 5, 2014 by Chris French
According to a 2013 study, the average American household carries $15,270 in credit card debt. The average mortgage debt is $149,925. The overall consumer debt in America as of February, 2014 was $11.52 trillion. Collectively, it seems that we like to spend money that we don’t have. Lots of it.
We borrow money to buy homes, automobiles, televisions, computers, clothing, entertainment, cell phones, and probably our college education. In fact, if you know someone who is completely debt free, you should probably get their autograph, because they are “famous” in a way that Kim Kardashian will never be >>>Tweet this<<<.
As Christians, the question we have to ask ourselves is this: “Is it ok for a Christian to be in debt?” I suppose there are other ways to phrase this question, such as: “What does the Bible have to say about the Christian and debt?”, or “Will I go to hell if I have a credit card?” These are questions that many “Christians” are probably not asking, since the answers might be even scarier than the current interest rate on our credit card.
The Bible has more to say about money than almost any other subject. There are more than 800 Scriptures that deal with the issue of money. To put this into perspective, the word “love” is only mentioned 552 times in the entire Bible (English Standard Version). Obviously, we can’t look at all of these verses in an article of this size, but let’s take a look at a few important concepts that Scripture is clear about:
Greed and Covetousness are Sinful & Harmful – Lk. 12:15; Col. 3:5; I Tim. 6:9-10
Contentment is Commanded by God (and is the preferable way to live) – I Tim. 6:6-8; Ph. 4:11-12; Heb. 13:5
Faithful Stewardship is Important to God – Mt. 25:14-30; I Pet. 4:10-11; Lk. 16:10-13
So, maybe we should ask ourselves some questions at this point:
“Why am I in debt?” – According to the passages we just examined, it absolutely matters WHY we are in debt, doesn’t it? >>>Tweet this<<< Is it because we had no choice? Is it because of an emergency? Is it a “secured debt” that we are paying back faithfully (home, car)? Is it because we want more stuff? In this writer’s opinion, our debt isn’t as important to God as the reason(s) for it.
“What am I doing to get out of debt?” – If we are in debt, are we faithfully making our payments? Are we doing everything we can to get out of debt? Are we working a budget, with a plan to eliminate debt, or are we recklessly adding more and more to our account?
The Bible isn’t as specific about debt as some would like for it to be. In other words, it does not condemn every person who is in debt, regardless of what their reason(s) might be. However, it is not silent about the sinful path that often leads to debt, or the consequences that usually follow >>>Tweet this<<<. As Christians, we should strive to “owe no one anything” (Rom. 13:8), but if we are in debt, we should be honest about what brought us into that situation, and do our very best to eliminate those debts in a timely manner.
Jeremy Pate is the Youth and Family Minister at the Northport church of Christ. He is married to Brooke and they have two precious little girls. Recently Jeremy has led a very thought provoking study at Northport over finances and most recently debt.