“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.” ~ (Romans 13:8 NIV)
After a busy Christmas season comes the reality of our decisions. Many times in our desire to provide that “special” someone in our lives a Merry Christmas, we often go a bit over our spending limit.
Opening mail in January becomes depressing, as the debt owed is reflected in the credit card statement received and with a high interest rate for the privilege. Sound familiar? Don’t feel alone, many believers are doing the same thing, with some still paying interest on multiple Christmases past. Eventually they can find themselves under a mountain of debt, only to watch it increase as each year passes by.
So what should someone in this position of overwhelming debt do? First they should realize they are not alone, the Lord taught us that if we truly have a need in our lives that we should ask of the Father and He would answer. How do we do that?
Spend some time in prayer, and if married encourage your spouse to participate. The old saying the family that prays together, says together, has scriptural basis, as together they are acknowledging Christ as the source of their provision. They should ask Him during their prayer time for wisdom when it comes to finances. Too many times Christians pray for others, but have difficulty when it comes to praying for themselves. Christ will respond to the call, if we will reach out to Him with a heartfelt prayer. He wants all of us to seek Him and His wisdom.
Next they should seek guidance from an accountability partner or group, we recommend Crown Financial Ministries, Inc. http://www.crown.org as they have resources to help lay a firm foundation toward becoming debt free. Crown has developed biblically based workbooks, scripture references, and available prayer partners to help students succeed. They also have specially trained Crown Financial Coaches who serve as volunteers to meet with Crown students one-on-one and under a strict code of confidentiality, to help students on the path to financial freedom.
There may be other similar programs offered through the local church or community credit counseling programs, however they should be thoroughly investigated when considering companies whose programs charge large sums of money for their services. Be sure and check with the local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce before signing any contracts. Being debt free means being good stewards of our resources and not incurring new debts.
If you don’t have access to an accountability program you can also consider a strategy that is often used to accelerate debt repayment. It begins with making a list of current debts, then order them by minimum payments required. Having your spouse on board and perhaps a church mentor for accountability will be an added bonus.
The goal is to use a cash flow technique of making minimum payments on all existing debts and then using the total “extra” amount previously paid above the minimum and apply it to the smallest outstanding balance debt first. Then once this debt is paid off, use the “extra” and the “minimum” payment amount from the debt just paid off on the next lowest balance, and continue paying off the smallest balance to the next in turn. The reason you do this is to give yourself the opportunity to celebrate paying off each debt with your Mentor and Spouse and reinforce the debt free plan for your life by changing your habits.
Truly if as believers we can work with each other to help others to achieve a debt free life, then together we can make an impact for the Kingdom and our families. Just imagine if we were giving the money we currently pay in interest, to the work of the ministry. Just imagine, a world where every good and skillful servant is empowered to accomplish the Lord’s purpose for their life, with no lack of resources. It just takes prayer, plan, and perseverance!
For Prayer and Reflection:
- Have I set an appointment to pray with the Lord each day about His Wisdom to be debt free?
- Has my spouse committed to support and encourage a debt free lifestyle?
- Have I found an accountability partner, mentor, or group to share His leading and celebrate my success?
- Have I researched various biblical sources and ministries for study?
- Have I reviewed and established a budget with a critical eye to reduce expenses?
- Have I laid out an accelerated debt repayment plan listing smallest to largest?
- Have I purposed in my heart that nothing will deter me from my goal?
Richard L. Cox, Sr. CFP® is a Crown Financial Ministries, Inc. Facilitator and the Chief Investment Manager of Cox Wealth Management, LLC a Registered Investment Adviser located in Chattanooga, TN. He can be reached at Richard@coxwealth.com, or by searching for “Coxwealth” on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, or by visiting www.coxwealth.com or you may also call him at 423-894-3882.
- Getting Out of Debt (brianeraines.wordpress.com)
- What are the health implications of being in debt? (standard.co.uk)