The Cautious Debtor

Biblical Financial Principles: The Cautious Debtor

One who avoids entering into debt, is careful and strategic when incurring debt, and always repays debt.

Repay debt promptly.

“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously” (Psalm 37:21).

“Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’ — when you now have it with you” (Proverbs 3:28).

Avoid the bondage of debt.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Debt presumes on the future.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13–14).

Debt can deny God the opportunity to work in our lives and teach us valuable lessons.

God may wish to show us his love by providing us with something we desire but for which we have no resources. If we go into debt to get it anyway, we deny him that opportunity (see Luke 12:22–32). In the same way that parents refrain from giving a child everything the child wants because parents know it isn’t in the child’s best interest, incurring debt can rob God of the opportunity to teach us through denial. Ecclesiastes 7:14 reminds us: “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”

Debt can foster envy and greed.

“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15 NLT).

Give and pay what you owe.

“Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority” (Romans 13:7 NLT).

Don’t co-sign.

“Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you” (Proverbs 22:26–27 NLT).

Debt can disrupt spiritual growth.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 


The Dangers of Co-signing Student Loans

News You Can Use: The Dangers of Co-signing Student Loans

“Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you” (Proverbs 22:26–27 NLT).

Last August, we looked at some of the dangers of student loans for college students, noting the pressure that significant debt puts on young adults and young families. This year, we’ll look at the dangers of student loans for another group – parents.

The skyrocketing costs of college education have led to a record $1.3 trillion total student debt(1). Much of this debt consists of public loans, but a significant amount of it is in private loans, which are often used to supplement federal loans. Private loans typically have higher variable interest rates and most often require a cosigner. In fact, approximately 90% of private loans are co-signed by a parent, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Parents often co-sign a student loan thinking that they are merely a backstop for their child. But in the eyes of the bank, the parents take on equal responsibility for loan repayment. Worse, the bank is under no obligation to keep the co-signer updated on the status of the loan. A student may be missing payments or be late on payments without the parents’ knowledge – even though the parents’ credit score will be impacted.

Parents would be wise to keep in mind that the reason banks require co-signers is that they believe the borrower to be a credit risk. If they were confident of the student’s ability to repay the loan, they would not require a co-signer.

Parents would also be wise to keep in mind the wisdom of scripture. Several times, Proverbs warns against what today would be the practice of co-signing a loan. Many parents have endangered their own retirements or their ability to keep up with increasing medical costs by taking on responsibility for tens of thousands of dollars in debt without having budgeted for repayment.

If your ministry serves parents who might be considering co-signing a student loan, help them think through some alternatives. One or more of the following may be helpful:

  • Consider having students work for a year or two to help save for college. This can be particularly helpful for students out of high school – not only will they reduce their dependence on student loans, but they’ll likely value their education much more highly!
  • Again, for students just coming out of high school, community college can often be a great option for the first two years. It’s typically much less expensive (and in some states like Tennessee, it’s actually free to residents of the state), and it may also provide a better transition than going straight to a large university.
  • In-state college tuition is typically much less expensive than out-of-state tuition. Sometimes students have just one “dream college” in their sights, but that dream can turn into a nightmare when extra debt is incurred to go out-of-state.
  • Many colleges have multiple scholarships and grants that go unused each year because no one applies for them. Research carefully opportunities to get assistance with tuition.

Student loans come due for repayment early in a career, when earnings are typically lowest – and that assumes that a student can get a job right out of college (which is not a guarantee). Whatever alternatives the parents served by your ministry are open to consider, you’ll be doing them a big favor by helping them to understand the seriousness of student debt and the risk of taking on responsibility for that debt by co-signing.


  1. Statistics in this paragraph taken from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/09/the-dangers-of-cosigning-a-student-loan.html, accessed on August 22, 2016.

 


Debt vs. Love

Truths That Transform: Debt vs. Love

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves has fulfilled the law.” — Romans 13:8, NIV

Paul acknowledges an ongoing debt that believers have to one another – to show love and thereby fulfill the law. But besides that, he says, make every effort to owe no one anything. We’re familiar with the many exhortations in Scripture to avoid debt – but how often do we consider the opportunity cost associated with debt?

The reality is that our financial condition can set a ceiling of sorts on our ability to love and serve others. The one who is burdened with a heavy load of financial debt is not in a position to come to the aid of a neighbor or family member who may be in need. In Ephesians 4:28, Paul exhorts us to work with our hands in order to have something to share with those in need. But if the fruits of that labor are already spoken for in the form of indebtedness, then our ability to share is limited.

To be sure, love is much more than a matter of money. We demonstrate love for others when we serve them, when we spend time with them, when we pray for them, and in so many other ways. But the one who is free financially is also able to demonstrate love tangibly through helping out with material needs. What would the parable of the Good Samaritan have looked like had the Samaritan not been in a financial condition to take care of the man he found by the road?

Many believers are stunted in their growth in generosity as a result of debt. Feeling trapped financially, they are unable to prayerfully consider opportunities to advance the kingdom through giving. Debt becomes a barrier not only to giving but to the development of a generous spirit. Debt forces our focus inward rather than outward.

Much of our debt is caused by unwise decisions and unbiblical attitudes toward money. The pull of the culture can be a stronger influence at times than the wisdom of God’s word. But debt can also be caused by factors beyond our control – medical or other crises, job loss, and others.

Whatever the cause, debt remains a major barrier to a generous lifestyle. Helping the members of your congregation who are struggling with debt will not only free them from financial bondage but will also open up the door to increased generosity and kingdom impact. Here are a couple of major ways in which you can help your congregation achieve freedom from debt:

  1. Pray. Pray with and for members of your congregation who are struggling with debt. Lead them to confess any sinful behavior patterns and financial attitudes, if appropriate, and to repent from them. Encourage them to commit their ways with regard to finances to God and to pray for wisdom in financial decisions and the setting of financial priorities.
  2. Plan. Help members of your congregation plan for financial freedom through establishing a budget and a debt retirement plan.

If you’d like some assistance in helping members of your congregation work through debt and out the other side, check out our Freed Up From Debt resource.

Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!


Shopaholic vs. Leadership Junky?

August 2016 Good $ense Newsletter: Shopaholic vs. Leadership Junky?

Dear G$ Friends and Partners,

A shopaholic and a leadership junky walk into a bar… I know, it sounds like the start of bad joke but somehow I am intrigued by the dichotomy of the characters involved.

A week ago I was on a plane coming back to Chicago from Kansas City and next to me was a very distraught woman.  She had been bumped from a previous flight and she now had no idea where her luggage was.  She really had off-the-chart concern about her luggage which she was sure gone AWOL. Turns out she had been at Mall of America that week for what she called a “shopping vacation” and all the great buys were in her luggage.

As she gushed about her bargains, the economics of it all – the plane fare, the nights in a hotel, not to mention the credit card interest – to get those bargains – somehow eluded me. I kept thinking about the enticing myth of discounts: “the more you buy the more you save”!  So, I’ll continue along with you to devote myself to offering an antidote to shopaholism (and a lot of other crazy financial behavior) and to draw encouragement from the inroads that your ministries are making.

Richard Foster points out in his classic Celebration of Discipline that the more disciplined we are, the more freedom we have and the more celebration that freedom brings with it.  This idea is very counter-cultural….which makes it all the more exciting to me! We say the same thing in Freed-Up Financial Living  – that setting safe boundaries through a spending plan, and exercising the discipline to stay within those boundaries, is what gives financial freedom. And within that freedom is joy and contentment.

Our role as stewardship ministry leaders is to articulate that message in a compelling and grace-filled way. I hope you and your team spent a part of your summer planning how to get this message out in this next ministry season. And I hope you took some time to get re-fueled as well.

One of my annual “refuel” stops is the WCA Leadership Summit. As usual, this year’s Summit had so many take-aways that I’m still processing which one or two items to implement in my own life and stewardship ministry.  Our Good $ense sales manager Joe Richards summarized some key summit points you might find helpful during your team planning sessions:

  • Keep your ‘passion bucket’ full by living at optimal stress and health levels
  • Be intentional if you’re going to follow Christ ‘up-hill’ to truly live vs. just accept your life
  • Be humble (agree with who God made you to be) and intentionally value others by having more connection than correction in your interactions
  • Execution (of strategy) is harder than creating strategy and requires focus and accountability
  • There will always be more good ideas than capacity to implement them, so pick the best
  • Peace is the presence of justice not the absence of conflict
  • Intentionally develop your emotional intelligence to grow connection, capacity, and impact
  • Think the impossible to reach the unfathomable through implementation of wildly important goals (WIGs)

As you lead yourself and others in the area of stewardship, you can have major impact toward transformational behavior and living. Stewardship may not be the biggest ministry in your church in terms of numbers, but in it can be far-reaching in terms of sustained kingdom impact. (And over the long run, impact tends to lead to numbers rather than the other way around).

Well, that’s quite enough food for thought. May your summer conclude in wonderful ways and may you be refreshed for a God-led, impact-filled and downright fun ministry year!  May you impact both the shopaholics and the leadership junkies in your sphere of influence with the message of biblical stewardship.

Let your leadership shine!

Sid Yeomans

President, Good Sense Movement

Transforming Finances!  Transforming Lives!


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