I can honestly say I was in debt since I was 16 years old.
When I was 16, I started driving a 1997 Toyota Tacoma. White, stick shift, 4 cylinder, two-wheel drive; nothing special. My parents added me onto their insurance. Since I lived in Florida, was 16 years old, and it was in my name, I paid over $300/month for it. I couldn’t afford this much working part-time, so my parents were covering the difference. But, I had a “tab” I knew I wanted to pay back.
Since then, I’ve borrowed money in credit cards, from people, and when nobody would lend to me anymore, I stole. I stole over $3,200 from my grandparents by hacking into the credit union. To pay my grandparents back, I borrowed money from other people. It was an endless cycle.
Before I moved to Iowa, I had a commitment that I wanted to pay everyone back. When the time came to move here and I hadn’t paid everyone off, I borrowed money off the same credit card I used to buy the gas to get up here. Because my credit card was nearly maxed out, to pay for the gas to get up here, I would select credit at the pump so it wouldn’t take it from my account right away. That way, the transactions would hit several days later. When I arrived in Iowa, I had an over-drafted bank account, gone over the limit on my credit cards, and I had $57.00 in my wallet. My poor choices didn’t stop there. Before I moved, I bought Ashley a necklace from Kay Jewelers: on credit. This $100.00 necklace ended up costing me $317.00 after interest, not to mention I lied to her when she found the credit card statement.
Poor financial decisions will lead you to this lifestyle. Secrets, guilt, frustration, stress, heartache, anger… all symptoms of poor finances. And the worst part of it all? I could have avoided all of it.
Solomon was a wise man. When God asked Solomon what he wanted, Solomon didn’t ask for riches. Solomon didn’t ask for power. He didn’t ask for love, many servants, or many cattle. What did he ask for?
Kings 3:9: “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who can judge this thy so great a people?”
And God granted his request. And you know what wisdom got him? You’ll have to read the story to find out. My question is, though, what can wisdom get us? What if we would have just listened to our parents?
Of the 38 recorded parables of Jesus, 16 of them deal with money or possessions. In the Gospels, one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.
One of the things the Bible talks about is being a good steward. Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as, “the job of supervising or taking care of something, like an organization or property”
So being a good steward of money means, “the job of supervising or taking care of your finances.” It’s not ours, we’ve just been entrusted with taking care of it and watching over it. It’s God’s money that he allows us to use.
A good illustration for being a good steward is that of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. We find three different attitudes in this account.
The thieves on the road had an attitude of, “What’s yours is mine and I’m going to take it.”
The Levite and Pharisee had the attitude of, “What’s mine is mine and I’m going to keep it.”
The Samaritan had the attitude of, “What’s mine is yours and I’ll share it with you.”
This Samaritan was not a trained man of religion. The Samaritan was probably not any wealthier than the Levite or Pharisee. This Samaritan probably had other things to do in his life. Yet, he stopped where the others walked on by. What made the difference? It was his attitude. The Samaritan’s attitude helped him first to overcome his prejudice. His attitude helped him ignore the inconvenience. And his attitude helped him give up his possessions to take care of this man.
This is the attitude of the good steward.
Another example that we can learn from is the parable in Matthew 25:14-30. This parable is about a master entrusting assets to three servants. When the master returned, he asked the men to bring forth what he trusted them with. The first servant doubled his assets. The second servant doubled his assets. But the third servant did nothing with what he was trusted with. And he was chastised for it. There’s an interesting lesson in this parable.
The Bible says in Matthew 25:15, “…according to his ability…”
This is a wise move from the master. In the parable, the master is careful to not waste his assets by placing more responsibility on the shoulder of each slave than he can handle.
The Bible talks a lot about how God isn’t going to give us more than we can handle. Just like the master distributed his assets according to the servant’s abilities. Just like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13. How do we know that God will bless us with a harvest of wealth if we can’t handle it?
It’s time that we take the topic of finances seriously. It’s time we realize that the way we handle our finances is a reflection of our reverence and respect for God. If there’s anything I can do to assist you in making wise financial decisions, please reach out to me. I’ve been there and done that, and by the grace of God and a wife who wouldn’t give up on me, we are now debt free.
I’d love to help you do the same.