by Ronnie Rogers
Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., a university city cited by the North American Mission Board in 2006 as the most unchurched in the state. Pastor Rogers’ expositional sermons draw large collegiate crowds during the school year as he preaches and teaches (and writes) from a biblical perspective that boldly challenges popular culture.
I do not believe that Scripture teaches that financial debt is necessarily sin or evil. I do believe that it is probable that some choices, and maybe all, that lead to unmanageable debt are sinful, and the end result is that the borrower becomes a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). Our nation is drowning in unmanageable debt, and so are many Americans. Unfortunately, many Christians lose their testimony and joy because they practice the same money management techniques as the rest of America and find themselves in the same financial bondage.
Although extraordinarily popular, it seems to strain credulity beyond imagination to attribute all of the financial woes of our day solely to economic factors or to imagine that Americans simply cannot add and subtract. Additionally, the major cause is not merely spending too much or making too little, all asseverations to the contrary notwithstanding. While there are certainly some people in the bowels of financial bondage or upheaval because of circumstances beyond their control, that does not seem to be the case most of the time.
Rather the genesis of both the national and personal financial meltdowns of our day is spiritual. It is easy to see that it is not merely a problem of numbers since everyone can add and subtract. Even when spending is cut or income increases, this is most often followed by other financial meltdowns because the core of the problem is spiritual; a reason that is summarily dismissed by most national economists as well as most Americans. As long as people view economic issues as merely economic issues, unnecessary financial woes will continue and should be expected.
Consequently, until the spiritual derivation of financial bondage is recognized and acted upon, debt will be America’s taskmaster. The following lays out the spiritual basis of the problem, and each requires repentance to start the process of true financial recovery and stability. God loves to forgive sin when true repentance is present. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
The sin that leads nations or people into financial crises may be one of the following or may actually involve all of the sins listed. Additionally, I do believe financial counseling can be of enormous help, but if the spiritual dimension is ignored or marginalized, finances will never be viewed correctly. Without a proper spiritual view of finances, it is impossible to manage finances as intended by God, resulting in many walking headlong into unmanageable debt. I use the following to help others deal with why they are in debt and how to start anew and remain free from financial slavery. Unfortunately, I had to learn these truths up close and personal rather than by observation of other sinners.
Two questions can facilitate in discovering what may have either led to or is leading to financial bondage: first, what were, or are, the temptations to overextend? Second, what may have prompted the temptation?
The warning of Jesus is as timely today as when He said. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24).