“Extravagance is the common disease of the times,” Charles Spurgeon said. Extravagant times in the 19th century! Then what, we wonder, would he say about today’s society? In describing those extravagant times, he went on to say that they were the ruin of many. And if Spurgeon’s times were extravagant, then surely our own are even more so!
“Living beyond their incomes is the ruin of many of my neighbors; they can hardly afford to keep a rabbit and must needs drive a pony and chaise. I am afraid extravagance is the common disease of the times, and many professing Christians have caught it, to their shame and sorrow. Good cotton or stuff gowns are not good enough nowadays; girls must have silks and satins, and then there’s a bill at the dressmaker’s as long as a winter’s night and quite as dismal. Men burn the candle at both ends, and then say they are very unfortunate — why don’t they put the saddle on the right horse, and say they are extravagant?” (Plowman’s Talks chapter 12, by Charles Spurgeon; from The Spurgeon Archive).
Although we live in an era of skyrocketing debt and spending, debt is certainly no new problem. The Old Testament had much to say about lending and borrowing. Such as Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor. The borrower is servant to the lender.”
Spurgeon, who based his thoughts on the Scripture which says, “Owe no man anything,” was actually quite hard on borrowing. For he went on to say that any who willfully went against that, should be turned out of the Christian church! Most churches today would empty out!
We personally believe that living debt-free is best. But does that mean debt is wrong?
Christ himself said, “… do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return… Luke 6:35). And if we lend, then it stands to reason that someone is borrowing.
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law, (Romans 13:7-8).
Combining these Scriptures, we see several things.
We should not owe anything to anyone.
And this refers to more than just money.
We should lend, expecting nothing in return.
Not that it’s wrong to expect borrowed things back. But we should not lend hoping to get something from others. And things and money should never become a cause of contention.
And we should pay whatever we owe.
But the fact is that everything is God’s. We only borrow it! So we always owe something. Plus we will always have taxes to pay. And, even if we pay right away, we owe shop owners for the things we buy. We’ll never get to the point where we don’t need to buy or use things. And we are even living on borrowed time.
But beyond those, are two things we will never be able to repay in full.
We will never pay enough love, respect, or honor to others.
Until our dying day, we’ll be surrounded by others who need us to show that to them. And no matter how hard we try, we can never love others so well that it will be enough. We will never have a love that perfect.
And we will never be able to repay our debt to the Lord.
As an old gospel song by Ellis J. Crum says, “He paid a debt he did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away.” Not only do we owe him our salvation, but our very lives. And as the owner of all, everything we have is his.
So since we’ll never become truly debt free, it seems safe to surmise that living in debt is unwise, but not wrong or sinful. With financial matters though, the Scriptures do teach three important principles:
- Everything is God’s, and we’re called to use it in the way he wants, and that will bring him glory.
- We’re also called to give and lend, helping others when it is in our power to do so.
- And finally, to handle money wisely. Because careful spending and avoiding debt better enables us in both these tasks.
And last, but not least, a debt free life can help keep us from burning the candle at both ends.
Which would only leave us in the dark, financially speaking.
[Image via ©TheScorziellos-Mario]