FIRST-PERSON: 6 keys to overcoming financial bondage
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP) -- You know you're in financial bondage if ...
a. You argue with other family members about money.
b. You don't pay off your credit card each month.
c. You get past due notices.
d. You spend money as emotional therapy. Or ...
e. All of the above.
The correct answer is any or all of the above. If one or more of these apply to you, you need to bring your finances in line with biblical principles.
Maybe you think financial bondage is everywhere, but I have the privilege of meeting thousands of people following God's principles who are living a joyous, victorious life of financial freedom. You can, too.
Financial bondage is usually the result of incorrect beliefs about money. Romans 12:2 offers the solution: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
You may profess to be a follower of Christ, and yet your financial habits have been subtly conformed to what everybody else is doing. This issue is commonly known as the "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome. That's why it's important to be transformed by the renewing of your mind -- as Scripture says -- because what you believe changes how you behave. Applying spiritual truth leads to very practical results. I know, because it happened to me.
If you change what you believe about money -- turning away from what the culture wants you to believe and toward what God wants to teach you -- you'll be transformed, radically changed from the inside out.
Then, when you apply that truth to your financial decisions, your behavior will change. Even better, it will stay changed as you stay in God's Word and are fed by it. Anything else is just a fad diet that won't protect you from slipping back into financial bondage.
As you commit to following God's way out of financial bondage, here are some practical steps that you can begin implementing right away:
1. Stop any form of borrowing. This includes credit cards and loans from family and friends. Consumer credit is our most common source of indebtedness, and the sooner you stop borrowing, the sooner you will get out of debt.
2. Develop a spending plan. A spending plan gives you the freedom to spend money with a purpose or strategy. It simplifies daily decisions and ensures that your priorities will be met. The deeper in debt you are, the more restrictive your spending plan will need to be while you pay down debt.
3. Work out a payback plan with your creditors. Most creditors are willing to work with people who honestly want to repay them.
4. Learn to trust God and you will experience self-control. That sounds like a paradox, but it's the key to getting out of debt and staying out of debt. The more you trust God, the less you'll want to borrow.
5. Break the hold materialism has on your heart through giving. The cure for wanting things is generosity. Begin giving 10 percent of your income to support God's work to demonstrate He is the highest priority in your life.
6. Seek counsel and advice. Pray and ask God to place others in your life that will gladly share their wisdom and experience to help you achieve your goals.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. His latest book, "The S.A.L.T. Plan, How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions," is available now. To sign up for Chuck's free weekly e-newsletter, "Handwriting on the Wall," visit Crown.org/handwriting or call 1-800-722-1976. God uses Crown's biblically based training to help people discover and faithfully manage their gifts, talents and resources. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).