As we seek to dismantle the “Messianic Welfare State,” we must not remain complacent and feel excused in our dependency on the “Messianic Bank.” In America, just as “sex sells,” debt sells. Debt has been made sexy and promotes itself as if obtaining it is inevitable to survive. Sadly, professing Christians in America have bought into this ideology.
Credit scores have been placed on an altar and provided to us as the litmus test of good stewardship. On the contrary, you can have an excellent credit score and at the same time be weighed down by monthly payments for the rest of your life. Is that what good stewardship is? We understand redistribution of wealth as theft, but forget that debt enslaves us (Prov. 22:7). We understand that a system that redistributes wealth is sinful, and although debt is not sinful in and of itself, the banks in America still have created the same dependency mentality. Interestingly, when you track down where the money that the bank loans you comes from, you will find that many times it is theft as well, or counterfeit.
We believe that people should work hard to provide for their own families and for those who are in need (1 Tim 5:8, Eph. 4:28). This would be contrary to living off any government assistance. This would mean that if we want to purchase something then we would need to make sure our wages allow for it. If our wages do not allow for it, then we ought to save for it until we can afford it. However, what is promoted in our culture is, “if you can’t afford it, borrow it from the bank.” We are told to get a credit card, get a personal loan, get a pay day loan, get a collateral loan, or get an equity loan. There is a loan for everything now; you can find instant gratification. There are more and more loans that are actually geared towards people with bad credit—they just carry high interest rates. We are told we need to get at least three lines of credit in order to “build our credit” as soon as we can. Credit card companies target young adults fresh out of high school. Even people who file bankruptcy are attacked by offers from banks immediately after their debt is charged off. Just as the government calls for poor people to depend upon it for their needs, the banks calls out to poor people, middle class people, and even wealthy people to depend upon it for their needs and success.
Government assistance brings people into a trap by giving people just enough to survive, yet keeping them in the cycle of dependency. This allows them to exercise greater control over you than they already have. Whether or not it is their intention for people to remain in the cycle, their intentions are to promote socialism and promote themselves as the refuge for welfare. The bank brings people into a similar trap by giving them as much as they can at the highest interest rate possible, depending on credit, to enslave the person to that debt so that they can continue to profit from it. Depending on the type of debt, such as mortgages, it may be sold several times to other lenders in order to profit more highly and more quickly.
Amazingly, the type of loan that would probably be most beneficial to people is one of the hardest to obtain: a business loan. If you walked into a bank today hoping to obtain $50,000 to start a business, you would most likely have to show some type of track record that the business is already producing funds, or that you have some type of collateral to cover the loan. For many people, if they already had these types of assets they would not need a business loan in the first place. However, if you want $100,000 to go to college, which does not guarantee a return, it will be thrown at you until you submit. If you want to borrow $250,000 to purchase a home, which will take the rest of your life to pay off, then with decent credit and a job that you may lose tomorrow, you can secure it. Likewise, anyone can get a car loan, which is one of the worse investments to finance due to depreciation.
Sadly, even many seminaries promote to men and women—who have had no personal discipleship or training under a Pastor, and who are not sure what they will do with their degree—that they should get in mountains of debt to learn theology and biblically how to be good stewards. But how can young men be good stewards of the flock of God when they are not even own their own finances? Many churches go in to hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, if not millions, in order to purchase real estate for their congregations. We are influenced by a nation that goes millions and millions of dollars in debt for unjust wars. Many programs funded by States are not just based on current taxation, but on millions borrowed on the collateral of future taxation. Almost anyone you talk to in our country is in some form of debt. Many people will justify their bondage by calling their debt “good debt.” There is no such thing as “good debt” when speaking in financial terms. Financial debt brings you into slavery: you now have to work in order to pay someone else. Your work is now motivated to paying someone back, when it should be to glorify God and to service others.
Obviously the bible gives room for borrowing money and many people borrowed in Israel, however God’s attitude towards debt is that it is not preferred. He obviously makes room for the poor in situations to be able to get on their feet, to be able to borrow from a brother at no interest (Lev 25:35–38). This was to be a temporary situation and not a lifestyle. We have made debt with interest a lifestyle here in America. We have made the things we consume a standard, which requires people to go in debt in order to keep up with the Joneses. If anything, Christians should not have a mentality of borrowing, but of being in a position to lend. God considered Israel blessed when they were in the position of lending and not borrowing:
Deuteronomy 15:6: “For the LORD your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.”
Deuteronomy 28:43–44: “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail”
Deuteronomy 28:12: “The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.”
Are we to say that someone who has debt is not blessed? No, we understand that whether poor or rich, in debt or out of debt, does not change a person’s status with God. We understand the physical blessings to Israel were a sign of the covenant he had with them. However, when is the last time you have heard someone thanking God for blessing them with debt? It is one thing to be blessed with the sufferings of poverty for the sake of the Gospel. It is quite another to be burdened with debt.
Proverbs 22:7: The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
We have to retrain our minds to reject our dependency on the bank just as we reject dependency upon the government. This builds character as it causes us to work harder, to learn patience, and develop good stewardship over what God provides for us, rather than the counterfeit provisions that the bank creates out of thin air or borrows from someone else’s, or another bank’s, bank account. We need to trust God’s fiat instead of the bank’s fiat. Coming up with funds by working hard over time is far more rewarding than the short-term gratification of a loan that puts you in long-term bondage. May our trust be in our Lord and not our credit score.