Christmas Colors: Black and Red

One of the most contentious issues around Christmas is money. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about digging themselves out of holiday debt come January. Retailers revel over the black in their checkbooks, while consumers cry over their bleeding bottom line.

For many Christians, the concept of debt is a touchy one. There are the pious few who shun credit cards, and a majority who long for the day when they can pay off all their plastic.

Recently, I heard a financial adviser speak on debt-proofing Christmas. She had tons of wonderful ideas for keeping Christmas traditions while eliminating or minimizing the cost. Wonderful ideas, good ideas, useful ideas.

However, following that interview, I got into a discussion on marital finances with my sisters. That prompted me to re-examine my perspective on money, debt, borrowers and lenders. What exactly does the Bible say?

Once when I was young, my dad loaned me money to purchase a bike. The plan was for me to earn my allowance and other funds to slowly pay off my debt. Truthfully, I don’t recall how many nights passed, but I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake thinking about how sinful, terrible and scary it was to owe someone something. One night, I climbed out bed, ran to my dad and begged him to let me take the money out of my savings account so that I could be free of this terrible debt.

Therein, I think, lies one of the Biblical cautions against debt. It invokes fear. There’s a feeling of inferiority to the person who holds the debt. That emotion, in and of itself is not Biblical. As children of God, we are not beneath or subservient to anyone. Neither should our lifestyle reflect that we are.

The problem with debt is that from either side, it is completely contrary to our personhood in Christ. We are called to be like our Father. Our God is beneath no one, in need of nothing and under no fear or condemnation. Neither are we. To live in a lifestyle of borrowing and owing is not to look like our Father.

In the relationship between a borrower and lender, Proverbs tell us the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7) Consider these two roles. Both encourage an attitude that is un-Christ-like. The lien holder has the tendency to feel superior and to lord his influence and power over the borrower. The borrower is beholden, and legally bound to his benefactor.

Throughout the Old Testament, God laid out parameters  for borrowing and lending. If to do either was sinful, God would not have explained how to do so honorably. God tells the Israelites to lend freely but never to be in debt to another nation. I believe God does this for the sake of His own name.

“The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (Duet. 28:12)

“And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin,lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” (Duet 9:26-28)

For the glory of His own name, God protected and provided for His people. He does the same today. Essentially, borrowing displays a lack of trust in God’s faithful provision.

A final criteria for Christians to consider regarding debt, is motive. More often that not, debt is acquired by greed. There is an insatiable longing for something that God has not previously provided, so in self-sufficiency we run to our own means for satisfaction.

Finally, in the New Testament, Paul instructs his listeners to own no man anything but a debt of love. Think of how you feel when you owe someone money. It is usually a pressure, a frustration, a burden. However, when love has been given, to return it ten fold is a joy, a pleasure!

God longs for His people to reflect His nature. God longs for His people to trust his sufficiency. And God longs for His people to experience the joy of effusively giving love.

Can we apply this to our checkbooks?

 

 

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Shopping Pains

I can’t make up my mind.

If I don’t hurry, they’ll leave me behind!

Red stockings? Green?

Cinnamon or Vanilla bean?

 

I can’t make up my mind,

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

Should I buy Dad great coffee,

Mom – flavored tea?

 

I can’t make up my mind,

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

Does Mom want new gloves,

Can a tie show my love?

 

I can’t make up my mind,

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

Does my sister wear tall,

Does Pete still play ball?

 

I can’t make up my mind!

If I don’t soon, they’ll leave me behind.

The mall is closing, Dad’s jingling the keys.

Oh if everyone was just easy to please!

Shopping for Truth

It’s been a day. A very good, very long day. At the moment, I’m enjoying my 11th day in Wichita. This morning, my mom, sisters and I hosted my other sister, Kelsey’s, first baby shower. She was buried in pink gifts and Pooh Bears by excited friends and family.

I feel like I turned around twice and all of a sudden, it’s nearly 5 o’clock. After everyone left, chairs were stored and dished racked, I went to the mall to see if I could exploit a sale at Express.  No such luck.  I hate shopping alone. However, the mall is rich fodder for a blog about lies.

The first lie assaulted me in the form of a 12×6 banner, strung to the ceiling as I entered the main body of the mall. “SmartLipo” it screamed. Really? Admittedly, you’re pretty smart if you know that “laser” stands for, “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” However, the emotions that lead a woman to consider laser surgery to extricate part of her body often include depression, self-loathing and embarrassment.

“Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes,” is smart, according to Health At Every Size, a movement of individuals devoted to promoting health and contentment in people of every size.

My second double take occurred just one window further into the mall. A flirty mannequin waving from Forever21, strutted a t-shirt declaring “Jesus [hearts] U.” Not a lie, but the greatest truth ever told. I simply find it ironic to hear the overhead music bragging about “dirty little freaks.” Because Jesus loves us, shouldn’t we be more concerned with His honor?

Lastly, since I only lasted at the mall for about 25 minutes (I told you I hate shopping alone) was a the phrase on one t-shirt among many at a stand in the middle of the isle. “I Beat Anorexia.” Well, good for you, but seriously – this is serious.

Statistically, 10-25% of all those battling anorexia will die. If you beat it, do something to help someone else win a loosing battle.