Someone recently sent me a quote from Dave Ramsey that I want to gift you with today. Dave’s “Financial Peace University” has been viewed by hundreds of thousands with some profoundly positive consequences in the lives of ordinary people who had become enslaved to debt and a cycle of fiscal irresponsibility. Now, in light of the recent Congressional wrestling match over the issue of raising the Federal debt ceiling, he put things in a way that us mere mortals without advanced degrees in economics can readily grasp. "The federal government will take in $2.173 trillion in 2011. That’s their income, and it sounds pretty good. Until, that is, you factor in that the federal government will spend $3.818 trillion during the year. So, just like many families, the government’s outgo exceeds their income—to the tune of $1.645 trillion in overspending. That’s called the deficit. Altogether, the government has $14.2 trillion in debt. What would happen if John Q. Public and his wife called my show with these kinds of numbers? Here’s how their financial situation would stack up: If their household income was $55,000 per year, they’d actually be spending $96,500—$41,500 more than they made!That means they’re spending 175% of their annual income! So, in 2011 they’d add $41,500 of debt to their current credit card debt of $366,000!” These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.
My purpose here is not to jump into the politics of this national fiasco created over time, but to urge believers to jump out of the immoral greed that drives purchases beyond what God enables us to afford simply because we want what we want when we want it and plunking down that Visa, MasterCard or AMEX piece of plastic will provide the instant gratification we so desperately crave. My wife and I have downsized considerably in the last few years. Our new motto is “simplify” (not to be confused with the Marine Corps motto). We lack for nothing and want nothing which is a good place to be but what’s really a joy is to be able to give more to the work of the Kingdom. As Dave Ramsey will repeatedly say, “There is freedom in being debt free” and the opposite is also true. The borrower becomes the lender’s slave and that means the one who owes is in a financial bondage. If someone responds by saying, “Hey, everybody else pays on time” or “Everybody else runs up their credit cards!” then just remember where all of that has gotten a whole lot of people – upside down on loans, foreclosures because it was too much house for their paycheck to begin with, fear, frustration, anxiety, sense of hopelessness, and the list goes on. Matthew 6:33 is still in the Bible and as valid for 21st century Christians as it was for 1st Century believers, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In context, the “all these things” are the necessities of life – not the “other stuff” that the advertising industry repeatedly attempts to get you to purchase because “you’ve got to have this gidget or that gadget to live happily ever after.” It’s not true and I can prove it to you by the truckloads (literally) of stuff I have hauled to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Muncie Mission, etc. over the past ten years or so and nothing I kept will pass into eternity with me. In the midst of these financially uncertain days, may the Lord give you strength and courage to pursue financial freedom for your own well-being, as an example to our President and Congress who don’t know the meaning of “restraint,” and most especially for the glory of God and freedom to promote in more expansive ways the gospel around the world.