For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my very favorite verses. It reveals to us that God loves us so much that His heart’s desire is to prosper us and give us hope for the future, even when we are in the midst of trials. As His much-loved children, we are to hold on to this hope for every aspect of our lives, including our personal relationships, health, spiritual growth and finances. It is my heart to see the Body of Christ prosper in every way and to understand the hope for health, freedom and growth in every way- including your money!
Unfortunately, many Christians today are mired in debt, which can keep us in a place of bondage and hinders us from prospering the way God intended for us. A couple weeks ago, I talked about developing foundations for financial fruitfulness, in which I discussed the crucial need for getting out of debt. I want to encourage you that if you are in debt, you can be released from this burden if you commit to making specific goals and decisions in your life. Here are 5 steps to help you accomplish paying off your debt:
1. Commit to get out of debt and stay out of debt.
First, you’ve got to make a radical commitment to God to get out of debt and remain that way by making wise financial decisions. The Bible mandates us to be debt-free! Romans 13:8 says:
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
By God’s grace, you can make the necessary choices and lifestyle changes to release yourself from this burden, no matter how substantial. When you are not weighed down by the hindrance of owing something to another, you will be freed to walk in greater generosity and abundance.
2. Set an attainable time frame get out of debt.
Larry Burkett, a Biblically-based financial expert who I greatly admire, says that the average Christian takes around seven years to get out of debt. We want to set realistic goals, but I also want to encourage you that it is possible to pay back your debt more quickly than you think if you are radical in your motivation. If you are passionate about paying back your debt as quickly as possible, take note of where you are spending your budget in non-necessities, and resolve to cut them out.
3. Create a budget and stick to it.
In order to create a budget, make a list of your expenses and your income, and if you are spending more than you are making, then make adjustments. You may have to alter expenses that you are otherwise accustomed to- that means giving things up! However, when you determine to follow your plan, you will find incredible freedom as you find your debt dwindling down to zero.
4. Radically adjust your lifestyle.
It’s easy to spend your money on a number of non-necessities: vacation, expensive clothing, lattes, another car. However, I would encourage you to practice a lifestyle of delayed gratification. This means that if you desire something, you may have to wait to purchase it until later. This may mean waiting a while to make a larger purchase, or reducing the number of times your purchase something per week. You may even choose to cut something out altogether. I want to encourage you that when you make adjustments to your lifestyle that may seem difficult at first, you will find greater freedom and contentment later on when you are in a place of financial health and prosperity.
5. Put God first in your giving by tithing.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Malachi 3:10)
The average Christian gives only 2-3% of their income as a tithe, but if every Christian gave a 10% tithe, we would have enough finances to eradicate global poverty! When we honor God first with our tithe by giving to the local church, He will bless our generosity and our needs will be met. If you feel that you don’t have enough to tithe now, then you can’t afford not to tithe, according to the law of sowing and reaping.
Proverbs 11:24-25 says:
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
I have full assurance that when you tithe, God will, by His grace, increase your ability to give.
Released into Freedom and Generosity
As Sue and I have walked debt-free for many years, I can attest that it is a wonderful place to be in when you are free to give generously to others. If you acknowledge Jesus as Lord of your life, you are confessing that you are not your own- and neither are your possessions! As we come into a place of greater financial health, we will find that God gives us the grace to give more and more. Through our giving, we reveal His kingdom to the world.
Here are some resources to equip you with financial tools and resources to thrive.
- How To Manage Your Money: An In-Depth Bible Study on Personal Finances is an excellent resource on financial management by Larry Burkett, a Biblically-based financial guru.
- My book The Grace of Giving is an in-depth look at God’s heart of generosity, and how we can break ourselves of a spirit of poverty to become Christ-like givers.
- If you are a business owner, I highly recommend Build to Prosper– an indispensable guide to releasing value in your business by economic expert Cam McConnell.
- Prosperity God’s Way is a series we did at HRock church on how to prosper from a Kingdom perspective, empowering you to grow your finances with Biblical keys.