Monday, January 30, 2012

The Blessing of Debt?

I know that the subject of debt is a controversial topic within the Christian community.  My thoughts on the subject are that debt causes one to be in a master servant relationship with the debtor and the Bible says you cannot serve two masters.  Additionally, tithing becomes an issue because when you are in debt as you are essentially borrowing your tithe.  It makes things a bit of a mess, and I’m sure God is not as black and white as this as the tithe is really a heart matter.  As a full disclosure, I do still have mortgage debt, so I sit in the pit as I offer this judgment.  I hate this debt and wish to be rid of it.  While the home has served us well, I don’t feel that the debt to get into the house has been a blessing.
Recently at church, I overheard a conversation from a person describing the miracle that was their low interest rate on their new car.  I was immediately drawn into the conversation as my own debt experience caused me to shudder.  This person went on to say that they thought they would have to pay a higher rate and that the dealer was so nice to let them take the keys to the car and drive it home that night even though the rate wasn’t locked in yet.  So as they drove home falling in love with their car, they were hoping that a miracle would happen.  And when they came in the next day, it did.  They received the blessing of financing a vehicle over several years with interest.  First of all, the dealer did no favor to the couple by letting them drive home with the car before a contract was signed.  They were simply duped.  The dealer knows that if they let you fall in love with the car, you will become emotionally attached to the thing and will be less prudent when you come in the next day to negotiate the actual loan.  The finance manager did not need to wait to get approval.  If that couple said they were going to walk out and find a place that could get them approval, he would definitely have found the approval for the loan right then and there, but that is a side note.    
The message that was spoken by this couple was that through that process, God blessed them with this newly financed vehicle.  Since I don’t believe God bless through debt, I asked myself instead, was this an attack by the enemy rather than a blessing from God.  I believe it to be the ladder.  Does God bless us through bondage or freedom.  A financed blessing is bondage, not freedom.  This bondage will affect this couple’s finances, ability to bless people, and affect their marriage.   From my personal experience, I can remember how excited I was to get a car loan to get that blessing of a car.  That blessing turned into curse.  Similarly, while having my house is great, because I am in debt, I cannot easily sell my house and buy one that better fits my family’s needs.  We are stuck in a small box because we are upside down in our loan.  Did God bless me with this stress, or is only through His grace that I am able to deal with my mistake.  When my wife and I learned our lesson about debt, we truly were blessed with a car.  This car was wholly given to us with no bondage.  It was the most beat up vehicle I have ever driven, but it was my favorite car because it truly was a blessing.  The two vehicles we have purchased since then have also been a blessing as we bought them outright.  They have worked out great and come without bondage.  When I compare the feeling I had with any vehicle I have financed compared with the feeling I have had with unfinanced vehicles, I can easily say where I truly felt blessed, and where I felt enslaved.   What if the loan didn’t cause too much hardship at all, could that loan be a blessing.  I think in that situation, you have to ask yourself what would have happened if you lost your job.  How would you view that car loan in that circumstance.  If I owned a car outright and lost my job, I would absolutely call it a blessing.  If I had an outstanding loan, I would likely lament the loan.   I can think of nothing more American than the Americanization of blessing, as only in America would we call debt a blessing.  We live in the kingdom of God not of America, so let’s parse out our blessings accordingly.

1 comment:

Kansas Bob said...

excellent thoughts!

It always surprises me when I hear about people going into debt for new cars when it is common knowledge that the car depreciates thousands of dollars when you drive it off the lot.

About your home - remember that your house will probably go up in value. Remember that you can pay it off sooner by making principle payments.

The issues for me with a home purchase are:

1) Is it in your budget?
2) Can you do it with a 15 year (or less) mortgage?
3) Does it meet your needs?
4) Can you get something comparable with a lease?

If the answer to #4 is no and yes to #1-3 then you might want to buy.