Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for
he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law
I love Christian Book stores. I can literally spend hours slowly making my way from one
row to the next, studying the titles and thumbing through pages. I remember one time when
I had spent a couple of hours sifting through the many selections until I had found the
one book I wanted. I then made my way to the checkout only to find out that the store did
not accept credit cards. I could hardly believe it. I thought everyone accepted credit
cards. But they did not, and so I walked back to where I had gotten the book and I put the
book back on the shelf.
Its really kind of funny when you think about it. I did not even think for a moment
that a credit card would not be accepted. I simply assumed that it would be, and because
of that assumption, I spent a lot of time picking out an item only to put it back on the
shelf and leave with nothing.
The mindset of our society is one that has a Buy now--pay later, mentality. If
we want something now but have no money, why should we have to wait? We should
be able to have what we want when we want it--right? I would not care to mention how many
credit card purchases I have made, only to justify them by assuring myself that I would
pay the balance off with my next paycheck. But its funny how many other things would come
up and seemingly make it impossible for me to do as I had planned.
We face a time of year in particular, when it is so easy to make the impulsive buys. We
find ourselves in a bind where we got to get that last minute gift but have already run
out of the funds to do so. Or we had the money, but just couldnt stay within our
Christmas budget for one reason or another. And after all is said and done, we get to
enjoy the memories of Christmas for months to come--each time the bill comes
in the mail.
In his book, Debt Free Living, Larry Burkett offers us three personal
traits that lead to debt: ignorance, indulgence and poor planning. The ignorance
refers to a lack of understanding about the true nature of your financial situation, and
sometimes a kind of living in a dream world approach to financial matters.
False perceptions of what can be handled can get us in trouble, especially during big
spending times such as Christmas.
Indulgence must obviously be one of the worse downfalls of a fast food society
that believes they should always have it your way and get it in thirty
minutes or less. We have trained ourselves not to wait if we dont have to, and
we often and easily give in to the need for immediate gratification.
Poor planning hits us at many levels, but at this time of year it is often manifested in
phrases like, I should have put something on lay-a-way, or If only I
would have put some money aside for . . . I use to get the biggest kick out of
hearing my wife talk about starting her Christmas shopping in June or July. Because,
between her and I, I am the one who would wait to the last minute and wind up pulling out
the cards. But her planning and buying presents throughout the year has been a tremendous
help, and besides, she always has a lot of fun when Christmas approaches as she pulls out
the presents she has stored away--most of which she had forgotten she had bought.
I have since learned to encourage my wife in her early planning and buying. For though I
find it amusing to some degree, I also see how it helps us to avoid unnecessary debt as
Christmas gets closer.
Credit and financial responsibility is something that varies so much from one person to
another. But lets consider this: the gift of Jesus to the world was given to bring
us freedom, and as we echo the sentiment of love through our own giving of gifts, may it
be that it does not ever become something that enslaves us--chaining us to debts for years
to come. But may we find a joy in giving of what we have--whatever that may be--and doing
so debt free.