I read recently that the total amount of consumer debt in the United States stands at nearly $2.6 trillion dollars – and based on the latest Census statistics, that works out to be nearly $8,500 in debt for every man, woman and child that lives here in the US.
Debt is the practice of making a withdrawal on the future so that we can live in the present. It often times results in the need for a personal bailout.
Debt maybe the most accurate description of man’s state without God. Sometimes debtors were outlaws, as in the case of the men who came to David in the cave of Adullam.
The person who owes is a slave to the lender and is in no position to exercise their full rights and liberties. Debt is binding, limiting, frustrating, controlling, annoying, and burdensome. It is a dark cloud that shrouds our life and smothers us with calls and letters from collectors reminding us that we are not free. Debt makes you the borrower and , but rather the tail. It is oppressive, reminds you that some one or some thing is in control of your life and that you are not your own…you or what you “own” belongs to another. Money is a great servant, but a terrible master.
I wonder if our over-dependent relationship to the world’s goods has cut us off from our relationship to God’s goods (goodness) and shows up as a lack of trust in his ability to provide all our needs. Some people are so poor, all they have is money!
I wonder if our inability to love one another comes from the obsessive outrageous love of self in the things that we “buy on credit”…which is a nice word for debt. Paul confessed in Romans 13:8, Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
The debt we owe and hopefully recognize and feel that we owe isn’t what you owe to others, but what you want to sow into others. The first mark of the Spirit’s work in our lives is that he begins to create a concern for someone else.
David’s major operation in the cave was to help people re-assess their lives and begin to gain a new perspective on how to live their life on purpose according to God’s plan. This was also the work that Nehemiah and the prophets were primarily engaged with. The Psalms are written not only from David’s personal life, but also his interaction with the rabble that he was leading out of the cave of debt, distress and discontent.
In the Old Covenant a plan for living free was enacted that every 50 years at the Jubilee all debts were cancelled, slaves are were free, and inheritance was restored. The jubilee was marked by the blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar). It was declaring a time of liberation.
Our new covenant jubilee is celebrated as often as we participate in the work of the cross in the Spirit and in Sacrament. Much of Paul’s writing is to keep us truly free from being a debtor, but certainly the entire book of Galatians was written to help us maintain our liberty in Christ. So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Galatians 5:1
In 2001, I was pastoring a small congregation (Charismatic Episcopal) that was leasing a church building from another church (Southern Baptist). They had moved on and built another building and allowed us to move in, use the space, pay as much as we could and they would continue to carry the bank note. That sounds very gracious and it was! We still owed them 86,000 and it would have taken our small parish decades to pay off the debt. So during our Christmas service that year their Treasurer came over with a Christmas present all wrapped up for us to open up during our service. We opened it up and the note instead simply said, “Your Debt has been Paid in Full.” They paid off all that we owed them for the building. It was a very MERRY Christmas.
In 2 Kings 4:1-7 you find this very heart warming story. A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”
Jesus is our Jubilee and the provision for you to live debt free has been provided. Live within your means. Because if your outflow is more than your intake, then your upkeep will become your downfall. Learn the lessons in the cave and when you come out live free. Don’t let any kind of debt cause you to suffer a cave-in.