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The Glittering Temptation of Debt and Its Cure

In our modern world, it’s all too easy to fall into debt and then further into debt.

We’re bombarded daily by advertising that makes us want more of whatever it is they’re selling. The world tells us to “go for the gusto” regardless of affordability, because, well, we’re entitled to it.

The lure of debt is an ages-old problem.  William Shakespeare and Benjamin Franklin had some acute observations about it:

“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend. And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry,” says the king’s loquacious but perceptive chief counselor, Polonius, in “Hamlet.”

Benjamin Franklin reminds those tempted to go into debt that, “Creditors have better memories than debtors.”

The Bible is full of warnings about living beyond one’s means. Proverbs 22:7 informs us that “the borrower is slave to the lender.”

In Romans 13:8, Paul admonishes, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Living Beyond Our Means

If we do find it necessary to borrow, we need a plan to pay it back sooner than the period of the loan.  Otherwise, we wind up paying far more than the original price.  The most striking example of this is the National Debt of the United States.

The, which tracks our rising debt at dizzying speed, was introduced on Feb. 20, 1989 by New York real estate magnate Seymour Durst.  The clock began by reporting a national debt of “only” $2.7 trillion.

By 1991, it was ticking up at $13,000 per second. In fact, it “began accumulating so fast that the last seven digits became totally illegible,” Time magazine reported.

The clock actually broke down in 1998 because its computers couldn’t handle the total of $5.5 trillion.  In 2008, a digit was added because the debt had grown to $10 trillion.  Over the next eight years, the nation’s debt grew to more than $20 trillion and today it is past $21.6 trillion.

Why is this important?  Because the government is living beyond its means, and we’re all paying interest on the debt, which compounds, creating more debt.  The debt for each individual taxpayer as of October 2018 now exceeds $216,000 and the total debt per family is upwards of $850,000.  Who will pay for all of this? Our children and grandchildren.

The Bible tells us that piling up debt on the next generations is a dereliction of duty.  In 2 Corinthians 12:14, the apostle Paul states: “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”  This doesn’t mean that children cannot assist their elders, especially as people live longer than ever.  It means that parents should provide for their children and not saddle them with debt.

The Lure of the Card

Personal credit card debt is out of control for many people.

The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from last year, according an annual Experian study on the state of credit and debt in America,[1] as reported by CNBC.  Total credit card debt surpassed $1 trillion in 2017, according to the Federal Reserve.

“About one-third of America’s 44 million student loan debtors say they were late paying that bill at least once last year,” CNBC states. “And years of aggressive auto lending, particularly targeting subprime buyers, have led to a dramatic increase in delinquencies and repossessions.”

God’s Economy v. the World’s

Problems with debt begin in the human heart, Scripture informs us.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” Jesus told a crowd. “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV)

Author Randy Alcorn notes that wanting more material goods can mire us in a lifestyle that contrasts with a forward-looking, eternal outlook in which trusting God and giving back to Him is more important.  In God’s economy, giving is the coin of the realm, not getting.

Debt keeps us from giving our best to our Creator.

“How can we be fully free to serve God when we’re indebted to human creditors?” Timothy Plan founder Art Ally asks in his course “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success.”

Instead of striving for ever more worldly acquisitions, we benefit much more from following the advice of Jesus, who said, “But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)

It comes down to trusting God to provide rather than chasing the empty promises of the world.

Parents and grandparents need to take this to heart and teach children about the use and misuse of money – especially the temptations and dangers of indebtedness.

[1] Jessica Dickler, “Credit card debt hits a record high. It’s time to make a payoff plan,” CNBC, January 23, 2018, at: “


Robert Knight


Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners.  Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship:  God’s Plan for Financial Success.”

Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact.  Learn more at



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