Most of us will accrue debt at some point in our lives. Perhaps we needed to put car repairs on a credit card when we were young and couldn’t afford it. Or, we needed a personal loan to get our small business off the ground, which now provides for our entire family. Additionally, most people will take out a mortgage at some point or use a credit card to build a better credit score. But, does God condone debt, even when it’s used for positive things?
We are told that “the love of money,” is the root of all evil. However, it is essential to remember that the “love,” or greed, is the evil part—not money itself. In this article, we’ll discuss different opinions on debt management and how we can best use it to fulfill our duties as Christians.
Learn more about when you should start thinking about your financial future.
What Does the Bible say about Debt?
To begin our discussion of debt, we will look at a verse from Matthew that discusses the types of debt and saving that Jesus discourages:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
When first reading this, we may think that the Lord is commanding us not to save – to instead give all we have to charity or spend it making a difference in the world. However, even God understands our needs and encourages us to be wise with our money.
Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (ESV).
Jesus encourages us not to covet earthly or superficial possessions, but to use them diligently to serve our community, and provide for ourselves and our families. Therefore, not all debt is bad in the Lord’s eyes. Debt that is required to purchase a house or fill the car up with gas can serve our purpose in life.
However, debt that is solely for material goods (things we want, but don’t need) is not what God wants for us. Instead, he wants us to be diligent with our money and put it to good use. This is not only for others, but also for our well-being. Debt used in vain will only cause us to suffer, while debt that serves a greater purpose can help us find financial security to continue God’s work.
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What are the Differences Between Reasonable Debt and Harmful Debt?
Most of us know intuitively what reasonable debt and harmful debt are. Consider the following types of debt:
- Credit card debt used for online shopping and restaurant meals every week
- Refinancing a high-interest personal loan to fund an extravagant vacation
- A mortgage for a married couple buying their first home
- A small business loan for an entrepreneur to open their business
In two of these situations, debt is being used to better the lives of the borrower in a meaningful and impactful way. Taking out a loan for an investment that will last you a lifetime is a wise financial option that benefits you and your family. Even a small bit of credit card debt for emergency funds and gas money can help you build credit to prepare for these investments. Racking up debt for frivolous or unnecessary purchases does not.
God wants you to build a life that serves the Kingdom of Heaven, which starts with ensuring that your life has meaning, purpose, and intention. So if you use your money for positive influence, make sure the type of debt you’re creating serves your long-term goals.
If you have more questions about debt, or want to use your money for a more meaningful purpose, contact OneAscent to learn about our values-based investing approach.