Proverbs 22:7 NKJV
The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Somehow, somewhere the United States decided that being in debt was good business. I’m not a historian, sociologist, or anthropologist, so I’m not sure when or why. But it’s clear as we face national debt into the trillions and corporate and personal debt not far behind that we have decided living beyond our means is productive.
Perhaps it’s because we do believe the first part of this proverb: “the rich rules over the poor.” If we have more – or appear to have more – than it seems that we are in control, that we decide, that we rule. However, if how we became “rich” is through debt, than it shouldn’t be very long before we are servant to those to whom we owe.
Paul often wrote a sort of stream of consciousness, from this topic to that one to that one. In Romans 13, he begins talking about our obligation for obeying civil law. And then he digresses to this:
Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:7-8 NKJV
“Owe no one anything . . . ” It seems that, as a Church, we have turned our backs on so many things, including obeying this. I’m one of those. Our family was, except for our mortgage, debt free a few years ago only to place ourselves in debt again. We are trying to struggle out, but it is much harder now due to the serious problems with the economy. And yet, when we are in debt to another, we are their servant. There is no two ways about it. My husband and I do not have control over our money; we must use it to pay our debts, rather than to use it to bless others.
There are commandments in the Bible that are obviously eternity-shattering. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” “Go into the world and preach the gospel.” But our Father is not just concerned about the big picture. He is also concerned about the details, about how we live our lives moment by moment, day by day. He knows that we are freest to serve Him when we are only under obligation to love others. When we live beyond our means (which is what debt is), so many things happen in our spiritual selves. We become less dependent upon Him. We focus more on our lusts and less on self-discipline. We often are looking for the approval of others and not for His approval.
Being in debt may not keep me out of heaven, but it certainly constricts what I can do here as a believer. And, for me, at least, getting out of debt has become a priority so that I can be free to serve God and Him alone.