I asked myself a question, “You have spent the better part of the last fourteen years trying to learn about money. What can you tell people that is important, really important?” I came up with two quick answers. I am certain that if I ask myself the same question tomorrow I will have a different answer, but just for today, here is my answer. Debt is a Curse. Period. The End. No Arguments Allowed. The longer I try to help people find their way to financial freedom, the more I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “God says debt is part of the curse and that the ability to lend money to others is a blessing! What is it that you don’t understand about that?” The Bible, as well as all the evidence, teaches us that, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” What is it that you don’t understand about that? I am so going against the flow on this one. Everything in our consumer culture is rigged to turn you into a willing debt slave. Our entire financial system is based on debt! Look at the dollar bill in your wallet. It doesn’t say anything about this piece of paper can be exchanged for an ounce of silver. It says in locked capital letters, “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE” Yes, I understand that at times debt is the best available option. A mortgage is the only way most people could ever manage to buy a house, but please understand. When you sign that mortgage you are placing yourself under a curse. Even the safest debt is dangerous. If you don’t believe me, just ask the 7,000,000 plus homeowners stuck in underwater houses. They can’t sell and move to a better life, because they can’t come up with the difference (IN CASH!) between the value of their home and the amount they still owe the bank. Ask the small business owners who took out “safe” Government subsidize loans using their homes for collateral. Too many found when they lost the dream of owning their own business they also lost their job and their home. Student loans! Please don’t get me started. “Great rivers, shady trees, medicinal plants, and virtuous people are not born for themselves, but for the good of mankind in general.”
The second part of my answer is totally counterintuitive. I have discovered that learning the art of giving is a key component to finding your way to financial freedom. I have also discovered that the key to giving is found in your heart, not in your hand.
Capital One may be asking, “What’s in your wallet?”
But God is asking, “What’s in your heart?”
I may be totally wrong on this one, but I believe that God is more pleased with a quarter stuck in an expiring parking meter that was given by a heart filled with compassion, a sense of abundance, and a desire to be a blessing than with a check for 10% of your gross monthly salary put into the offering plate with a heart filled with resentment and a legalistic sense of entitlement to God’s provision.
It has been my observation that giving with the wrong motives turns the heart into a hard, dead, little cinder of greed and bitterness.
Generosity isn’t an easy spiritual discipline to master, but you can become a more accomplished giver with practice. If you feel the desire to give something to someone or some organization, just do it. See how it works out. If you have given out a good heart, you will know it; perhaps not immediately, but you will know it. From time to time, check in with God. Ask his opinion on the sense of generosity that abides in your heart. Ask him, “Is there a little more I could be doing here?”
He will answer.
He might ask you to tip more than the customary 15% from time to time. He might impress upon your heart to take a depressing and depressed coworker out to lunch. He might even instruct you to give a special one time gift to a person in need. Of course, He might just ask you to stick an extra five dollar bill into the plate on a weekly basis.
We are told the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon an hundred and twenty talents of gold, of spices very great store, and precious stones. The narrator goes on to observe that there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. The king, by the way, returned the favor. This is what kings and queens do, even in this day. They give out of a sense of abundance, knowing that there will be plenty more where that came from. After all, basically they own an entire country.
If you are a Son or Daughter of the King of the Universe, generosity is your birthright.