Do you ever feel like God has shortchanged you? That the creator of the universe has somehow given you less than you need? That He, in his infinite wisdom and power, has failed or refused to provide for you the standard of living that you deserve? I know that sounds crazy and I doubt any of us has ever thought anything along those lines. It would be disrespectful and unappreciative at the least and open rebellion at the worst.
The Israelites frequently felt like God had shortchanged them. They repeatedly complained that the Lord was not providing as they felt he should. After God led the people out of slavery in Egypt, they complained that they had no water (twice) and He provided water (both times). They complained that they had no food and God caused bread from heaven to fall each day. Then, they complained that they didn’t have any meat to eat (which is almost comical since they were shepherds by trade and had herds and flocks with them) and missed all the great foods that they had in Egypt…as slaves. They complained that they were better off in Egypt. So God promised to provide quail for them to eat and that it would be all they had to eat for the next month until it was loathsome to them. God delivered as promised and then struck them with a plague as they were eating the meat (Numbers 11).
Did you hear that? The provision was cursed. A curse is nothing more than the absence of God’s blessing. It is medicine that isn’t effective, water that doesn’t quench, food that doesn’t satisfy. The absence of God’s blessing on anything means that it is woefully ineffective at addressing whatever need it was intended to address. It cannot prosper.
Now, I know that none of us would be crazy enough to accuse God of shortchanging us, of presuming that God had not done enough for us or given us enough. But what if we already have and didn’t even realize it? What if our actions communicate that we deserve more than God has provided?
As believers, we know that God is our provider (Mt 6:26, Phil 4:19). If we believe that and are trusting in God to provide for all our needs and take care of us, then what do credit cards represent in our life? What purpose do they serve? See, that’s the rub. If God has provided for us fully, as His word promises that he will, then why do we need to use a credit card to buy stuff?
I’m not about to go on an anti-debt tirade and start quoting Proverbs 22:7 where God says that “the borrower is slave to the lender” (Oops, just did). I could. It’s a valid biblical principle. I won’t because there is a much deeper issue here. It’s a heart issue that we need to recognize.
Credit card debt doesn’t typically represent buying an investment that has the potential to grow in value (like real estate) or covering emergency situations. I know that there is going to be someone out there that has several thousand dollars on a credit card from when they had to rush their loved one to the E.R. and I want to be clear, that is not typical and it is not what I am talking about here. The overwhelming, vast majority of credit debt is the result of “Ooh, I like that lamp” or “Wow, that couch would look great in our house” or “Gee, I have got to have that set of golf clubs” and of course “I want a coffee”. It represents impulse buying to satisfy our need for instant gratification.
The current average household in America has over $7,000 in credit card debt. In essence, when we systematically go into debt to buy things we can’t afford, we are telling God with our actions that we deserve more than He has provided. We don’t grumble like the Israelites did because we don’t need to (we just swipe our card and make up for God’s lack of provision) but the message is the same. “God, you don’t give me enough.” The sad thing is that almost all of us have done it at one time or another.
Not ironically, many start to feel like their finances are cursed. Suddenly, pay day is a stressful event instead of a blessing. There isn’t enough money to get through the month. We struggle with minimum payments rather than blessing the world around us to show God’s love and glory. We lack the provision to intercede in the needs we see around us because we have decided to provide for ourselves and the truth is that we aren’t that good at it.
This is just one aspect of putting Christ first in your finances, and it isn’t the whole story for any of us. However, if this is striking a cord with you, it may be time to really dial in and consider where you place your trust and who knows best for your life. If you realize that you’ve been unwittingly disrespecting God’s provision by providing for yourself, let me encourage you to seek God and repent of your lack of trust and acceptance of what He has for you. Pray for contentment with what He has provided (Heb 13:5-6). I won’t lie. I’ve needed to, and there is no shame in going before God to say that He is right and you are wrong. News flash, He already knows. He loves you and is just waiting for you to recognize where you’ve gone off the rails so that he can bring restoration to that part of your life.
If you feel like this is a stronghold for you and need help breaking a cycle of credit debt, please talk to me or one of our Pastors or Elders. We have the tools and training available to help you learn how to put Jesus first in your finances
Jarrod Gillihan - FPU Director