Sometimes when you look back over your life, it is funny how your priorities and attitudes about certain things can change so dramatically. I know without a shadow of a doubt that my attitudes about many things have changed over the years, but I think what has changed most about my priorities and attitudes has been in the area of materialism, and feeling the need to present an appearance of success. Not too many years ago, I felt the need to “Keep up with the Joneses” so to speak, which of course meant trying to acquire the latest and newest STUFF, and living beyond my means in an attempt to acquire things I did not need and could not afford. Someone was once quoted as saying, ” We spend money we don’t have, to buy things we don’t need, to impress people that don’t even care.” That pretty much sums up the way I used to live. I am so thankful that the day came that I woke up and realized that STUFF can never make you happy, and living paycheck to paycheck just to maintain a facade of wealth and status is completely stupid.
Everything that we ever do in life will bring about either a positive or a negative reaction, depending on what we have done. Stupid actions and behaviors bring about negative repercussions in our lives. Actions that are well thought out and done in wisdom bring about positive benefits in our lives. The materialistic mentality that I used to embrace brought about negative repercussions in the form of thousands upon thousands of dollars of junk debt. Credit cards, lines of credit, 401k loans (yes 401k loans are a very bad idea)…you name it…I had loads of debt. About four and half years ago, at the height of our indebtedness, my wife and I had a combined debt of nearly eighty thousand dollars in junk debt, not counting our mortgage! Yes you read that right…$80,000!! Somewhere in the midst of that cesspool of debt, we came to ourselves and said enough is enough. I think we both asked God for forgiveness for being such horrible stewards of the money that He had placed in our hands, and we made the decision then and there to make whatever adjustments were necessary in our lifestyle and spending habits in order to eliminate our debt. We made two decisions at that time that have completely changed our financial picture and our lives. The first and foremost decision was that we would consistently, and without fail ALWAYS give God the first ten percent of our income, which is commonly referred to as giving the tithe or the first fruits of income. To some people who have never done this, or have never even heard of doing this, giving ten percent of your income to your church may seem completely crazy. All I can tell you is that not only is it biblical, if you are not doing it, you are cheating yourself out of a tremendous blessing! Perhaps sometime in another post I will talk about tithing, and explain what an enormous blessing it is, but that is for another time. Anyway, we decided that we would consistently tithe, and we also decided that we would start implementing the financial principles taught by the financial expert and author Dave Ramsey. Those two decisions have entirely changed our lives! If you have never read any of Dave Ramsey’s books or perhaps never even heard of him, I would HIGHLY recommend his materials if you want to get out of the bondage of debt. You can find information about Dave Ramsey at his website at http://daveramsey.com.
Since making the decision over four years ago to get out of debt, my wife Janet and I have eliminated all of our junk debt (nearly $80,000 worth) and are now down to nothing but our mortgage payment, which we plan to pay off within the next three years. We have done all of this while giving to our church and to charities more than we have ever given in our lives! I am not telling you this to brag, because all of the credit for this goes to God for helping us do this. I am telling you this to encourage you and inspire you to do the same thing! If you are in loads of debt, you don’t have to be! There is a better way to live! In the Bible in Proverbs 22:7 it says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Whether you like it or not, that is true. When you are in debt, you are a slave to your debt. Your freedoms to do the things you want to do are limited by your ability to pay for them. I heard it said once that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. One of the biggest blessings in life is to help others and the less fortunate, but it is hard to be a blessing to others when you are broke. I know…I’ve been broke before.
Don’t let yourself be deceived into thinking that acquiring stuff and material possessions will ever make you happy, because it won’t. That mentality brings about debt, which brings about stress and unhappiness. Debt is bondage and makes you a prisoner. It is like handcuffs that prevent you from using your hands the way God intended, which is to help others. I can’t wait until my wife and I have our mortgage paid off, and I can say I am 100% debt free. At that time, we will be able to sow into the charities that we support the way that we want to, and have the satisfaction of knowing that we are helping to change the lives of others for the better. To me that is what true success in life is all about!
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,