As we hit the economic and financial aspect of national recovery in this message, let’s remind ourselves of what we discovered in week one—that America doesn’t have a resource problem. We have an abuse of resource problem that has manifested itself in messed-up finances.
Because of national debt and individual debt, we can’t have everything we want. We want a great military, 50 cent a gallon gas, cheap health care, free college for everyone, and help for those who need it. We can’t achieve that. At some point, the nation’s going to have to do what you and I do when we’ve overspent and are paying off credit cards—dig out, live on a budget, cut out things, and quit spending. The problem is that our leaders haven’t figured out what to stop spending on, so the deficit just keeps growing, and we just keep on borrowing or printing money to cover it. Oh, this will get fixed, either by elected officials willing to take on some pain at the risk of not being re-elected, or by the system itself, which will even more painfully self-correct. I was in Nicaragua when inflation was running about 13,000%—that’s right. Thirteen thousand percent. They were taking 100 cordoba notes and reprinting 1,00,000 over the top of the 100. That’s an economy self-correcting. You’ve seen what’s going on in Venezuela today, right? Not fun.
What is interesting is that God, when He rescued a people from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites, and prepared them to settle in a new land, laid out how He wanted them to operate financially. And He laid out a fairly straightforward overview. He told them that He planned to bless them, and the way they could tell He was blessing them was that they would be a nation that lent money to other nations and borrowed from no one. Wealth was defined as having the surplus to loan money to others and to be in debt to no one.
That used to be the definition of wealth in America, but no more. Your grandparents didn’t have credit cards. They paid for things in cash. When they didn’t have the cash, they didn’t buy things. Debt used to be a sign of poverty, that you’ve not handled your finances well. Even the poor knew you didn’t borrow because it just makes things worse trying to pay the interest. Stats now show that the more money you have in the US, the more you owe. The thinking has turned completely upside down. Now, you’re considered “wealthy” if you have enough money that you can use it as collateral to get more debt.
And we’ve done a great job in America of getting pretty much everyone in the debt game. A good bit of our economy is fueled by getting people to pay interest. When we ran out of people to get in hock, we thought up the great idea of the subprime mortgages—which actually was a way of charging young and poor people even higher interest rates because they were too poor to afford prime rates. And then the housing market blew up in 2008. And who got hurt? Yep, the young and the poor. We should be proud of ourselves.
Here’s what God knows about debt that we have forgotten. Proverbs. 22:7 says that the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. You get that? The borrower is slave to the lender. We did a wonderful thing emancipating blacks in this country in the 1800s. But through debt, we’ve essentially turned everyone in America into slaves. And you know that’s true, don’t you? How do you feel about the credit card company when the bill arrives? You hate it. Sure, you do, because slaves tend to have a bad attitude toward their owners.
But I do believe there is hope. Even as I write this, I am facilitating a class on personal finance with 12 people who want to handle money God’s way and are digging out of debt. And this is happening in pockets all across the land. People getting back to God’s thinking on money and how to handle it.
So, how do we do that as a nation? Well, we need national leaders who will decide it’s time to stop sacrificing the next generation and challenge us to do what’s necessary now. They’ve got to be people who don’t care who gets credit as much as they care about solving the financial mess before it becomes a disaster. We probably need to vote for those people who will require something of us, not just promise stuff to us. Because if you’ve dug out of debt, you know it’s hard, and it’s painful. But you know it’s possible, and you know at the end, you are free. So, vote for the person who promises you a tough time for a season, with a rainbow of peace at the end.
For the full message, check out the video on www.thesurge.cc or grab the podcast.