SCRIPTURE - PROV. 22:7                                                                                                   SEPTEMBER, 2002

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.


Of all the words in any language, there are few that can come close to being as repugnant to men, as the word, 'slave.'

Slavery, carries with it the idea that a man is not his own person, but rather, he is the property of someone else. This 'someone else', has total control over him. He must do whatever this person tells him, no matter what it is, or what time it is. He is not allowed to think for himself. He can only eat what this person gives him to eat. It makes no difference what it is. He must eat it, or starve. If he chooses not to eat, then he will be too weak to do his work, and will be punished for it.

The life of a slave, is no life at all. He can be bought and sold, at the whim of someone else. He can, if his owner deems, be killed, and nothing can be done about it. He may, be allowed to have a wife, but usually only the wife that is picked for him. The only reason for this convenience, is to propagate children that will grow up to be slaves. That's right, the slave's family, are in the same boat he is in. This process, serves to make the master, richer.

The slave, has no say as to who his master was, or whether he wanted to be a slave. Most men became slaves as a result of someone, or some nation conquering them, and forcing them in to servitude.

I am saying all of this, to show you just how bad slavery is. I use the term, is, because in other countries, it is still going on, and is legal. Thank God, that in this country, it was abolished.

However, every day, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, voluntarily put themselves into the slave market, and literally end up destroying themselves and their families. How?? Through credit, or debt. That's right, debt.

Debt, was another form of access in to the slavery market. Through the process of borrowing, a man could put himself in the position of a slave. He would borrow something, and if he was an honorable person, would sign a legal document, swearing to pay back the lender what he had borrowed, with interest. If he kept up the agreement, and paid off the loan, the contract was fulfilled.

If, on the other hand, he was unable to make the payments, he lost his property, and/or had to become a servant of the person he owed, until the debt was satisfied. Through the act of borrowing, a person could obtain much needed items like food, clothing, medicine, and supplies, to make life bearable. What the person counted on to pay back the lender, was his ability to make enough money, or perform enough services, to complete the contract.

However, borrowing was a risk, and the more a person got in to debt, the bigger the risk. If something went wrong, the man got sick, or injured, or his goods and services were no longer needed, his income dropped, and he might end up losing everything, to the borrower. And if the borrower, wasn't satisfied with what the man had, he would take the man, a member of his family, or the whole family as slaves, and either have them work for him, or sell them to someone else, and the man and his family would have to work off the price that, that person paid for them, plus interest. It was a vicious cycle.

Today, that same cycle, still exists, but has become a little less treacherous, yet it still has the same results, in that a person becomes a slave, and the ramifications could put his family at risk, all because of borrowing, or the new name we use, credit.

As I mentioned earlier, a person got in to debt, because of absolute necessity. Today, people get in to debt, for much less reasons. They do it, because they want things, that they see other people with. 'It's called, keeping up with the Jones's.' They do it because, they want to out do someone else. They do it, because of pride. They do it because they can. All of these things, lead people in to slavery to other men, businesses, and even the government, and most of them don't realize it.

Credit, though useful, can lead people down that ever increasing slippery slope, in to absolute destruction, not only of themselves, but their families. This is why God, gave Solomon this passage of scripture, to write down. It lets us know of the ramifications of what we are getting in to.

God is letting us know that borrowing of any kind, makes the borrower beholden to the lender. And the lender,, through interest, or what the bible calls usury, always makes more money.

The mentality of a lot of people, is to try to get something that they can't afford. They may have a job that pays them $2500.00 a month. After taxes, they clear $2300.00 per month. After rent, utilities, food clothing, and other household necessities, and maybe some entertainment, that leaves them with, let's say, $400.00 a month. They have that much money to save, or buy something extra, each month.

Now, good stewardship of this money would mean that they put it somewhere, where it can make money for them. So, let's say, they put it in a bank. Banks, usually pay around 2 - 4 percent interest per year. That means, after a year, the person will earn about $120.00,, because the $4800, for the year's savings, was not all in the bank for a year, but was deposited over 12 months.

Now, logically, a person, knowing that they have $400.00 a month, to buy what they want, if they pay cash for it, would be limited to items, whose total price, with taxes, come to $400.00. But, this is bad thinking, if you are not saving money for emergencies that are sure to come up.

Now, here is where the problem comes in. In order to have money for emergencies, a person saves, in a bank, but still wants that item that they have seen, let's say it's a car (a necessity), and it costs, enough money, that after your down payment, the car note comes to $300.00 per month. Then you tack on insurance that comes to $100.00 a month. The same thing applies, you have no money for emergencies.

What needs to happen, is that you find a car, that costs maybe $1500.00 or less, pay cash for it, and just get no fault insurance, for a hundred or so dollars, and save yourself from being indebted to some company for 3 or more years.

But, many of us don't think like that. We have to have a shiny new car, with all the extras, and that is where we get in to trouble. One thing you have to know is, all cars, basically do the same thing. They take you where you want to go, and bring you back. That means, that is all you really need. It is possible to get a real cheap car that will take you back and forth, until you can save up enough money to pay a larger down payment on a more expensive car, to get a smaller monthly payment. When I first got hired a Chrysler, I needed transportation to get to and from work. Seeing that I hadn't received my first pay check, I borrowed some money from a friend, and bought an 11 year old car that cost $25.00. It ran good, after I had a tune up and oil change, which the owner said it needed, That car lasted me for several years. Over that time, I established credit, after buying a house, and began to realize that I could get all sorts of things, seeing that I was working at a secure job at Chrysler. That's when I got stupid.

Realizing the power that I had, I started charging things, right and left. Clothes, jewelry, appliances for the house. I bought a new car, and another, used car, for my wife. The bills were coming in, and I paid them, no problem. Then it happened. Massive layoffs in the late 70's, with Chrysler nearly going bankrupt. All of a sudden, I couldn't make the payments on the house and other things for which I had credit. I hadn't saved much during those years, so, when the bill collectors started calling, I gave them what I had, then, I had to file bankruptcy. We lost the house, and had to start renting again, until someone allowed me to purchase their house, with them financing it for us. It is known as a land contract.

The reason I am telling you this story, is to show you what experience has shown me, and how it aligns with God's Word.

Credit, if used wisely, can be a blessing, but, if it's misused, it can also be a curse. Here's how.

Credit wasn't all that easy to get back in the early 70's, even if you had a good job.

Today, the total opposite is true. Credit companies, seeking to make big money, are literally giving credit to anybody, whether they have a job or not. Why? To make money. How?? By charging high interest rates. The higher a risk you are, the higher the interest rate you will pay. That means more money for them.

They, in competition with each other, are literally sending pre approved applications to all sorts of people, including students, in high school. There have been some rare occasions where junior high students have gotten them.

Credit card companies, are playing on that one characteristic nature that we all have, and that is covetousness [wanting what we see other people with]. So,, we sign on the dotted line, without reading the fine print, and looking at the minimum monthly payment they say you will be paying, and saying, 'I can pay that easily.' What you don't realize, is that minimum payment doesn't even pay the finance charges per month, if you get the card up to the limit approved. So, in essence, you end up getting further and further in to debt, and have to work harder to pay the bill. When you can't meet the payments, the phone calls start, then the repossession, and garnishments.

Now, you and your family are suffering, and you try to hold on to what you have, so you get a second job, or your spouse has to get one, not because they want to, but because they have to. That is slavery. Any time you have to work when you don't want to, or have to get family members to work, when they don't want to, that is slavery. Slavery that you have put your own self in.

And, it gets worse. People work long hours, and many years past the time that they could retire, because they can't afford to take a rest. They need the overtime, and that big paycheck. So, they risk their health, as well as their family relationships, just so they can have 'things.' Then they get so attached to these 'things', that the thought of losing them, is sheer torture, so they keep working and working until they drop, and can't work any more, or are dead. That is slavery, my friend. Then, when they can't make the payments, then the family has to make them, if they want to keep them.

People will do everything possible, to keep their 'things', and their credit. They are like the monkey that sees an apple in a jar, and reaches in to get it. The only problem is, with it in his hand, he can't get his hand out. So, he runs around with his hand stuck in the bottle, and won't let go. If he is in danger, he will try to climb a tree, with just one hand free. He will not let go of that apple. He, in effect, handicaps himself. He is a prisoner, or slave to his own ways.

Meanwhile the one providing the credit, is sitting back somewhere relaxing, getting richer by the minute, because some weak individuals, driven by covetousness, are doing everything they can, to get under his control.

It is no wonder that God said, 'Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.'

God saw this mess back then, and look at all the trouble we have, because we think we can get around this important commandment, but everytime, we end up, eating 'crow', big time.

How much debt do you have?? How many things do you have, that you really don't need?? Are you splurging, and charging things, just because you can?? Are you constantly getting offers for credit cards with real low payments, and low interest rates?? Be careful. You could be getting yourself in to a whole lot of trouble.

If you can, pay cash for everything you buy. Put things in the lay away, and pay a little each week, until you pay it off. You and your family will be a lot better off, in the long run.

The choice is up to you.