Where are the people that have the money? Just looking around at ourselves and our neighbors we see people that have the home, the car, the toys, the look, and the debt, but not the money. Many Americans today are pretenders. We are pretending to live a lifestyle that we cannot really afford.
Proverbs 13:7 says, “One man pretends to be rich, but in truth he has nothing.” Another verse, Proverbs 12:9, “Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.” There are two groups of people in America; those that “have paid” and those that “have not paid…yet.”
The real differences between these two groups are the questions we ask. And, all too often, we as Americans have learned to ask the wrong questions. What we tend to ask when buying something is, “how much money down is this going to take?” And, “how much is it going to cost a month?” Instead of asking “how much is the real cost?”
Another example is when someone walks into a business and asks “what’s the most I can get into for the least down?” We have forgotten to ask what is the real cost, not just the financial cost, but the lost opportunity costs that bind us to the point where we can’t give, where our marriages are stressed because we are fighting and worrying about finances, where we can’t give our kids opportunities because we have bought things that we didn't need with money that we didn't have to impress people that we don’t even know.
What is the real cost of our unbiblical stewardship?
In our country, we've been programmed to believe debt is normal and that debt is necessary. But debt, as we have come to accept it, didn't use to be the norm. Go back in time about 80 years, and in 1929, only 2% of the homes in America had mortgages against them. Forty years later, only two percent of homes did not have mortgages against them. That’s how fast our mindset changed.
The average American owes $15,418.00 in credit card debt with an average interest rate of 19%. If only the minimum required payments of $245.00 per month were made, it would take almost 30 years to pay off that debt. Some of you will be dead before the debt is satisfied.
What does this really COST?
What if you decided you were not going to be like everyone else and you were not going to simply buy whatever you wanted? Instead, you choose to be prayerful. You are going to make decisions based on direction from God. And, you are going to exercise self-discipline. Instead of owing $15,418.00, you could be faithful enough to do what grandma used to say and save that $15,418.00 instead. Over time, investing that minimum payment with the money you saved could earn you a 10% per year return on your money. Practicing this for 30 years could net you an $864,288.03 nest egg.
Are you thinking, “I had no idea what the real cost of this DEBT really was.”
What should we do now? We train our money and make our money behave.
In Proverbs 25:28, the Bible says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” If you don’t have control of your money or any area of your life, you are like a city whose walls are broken down. You are vulnerable to whatever comes along.
You are like the little kid in Wal-Mart who wants a toy or a candy bar and will throw a fit until you get it:
Child: “I want it!”
Mom: “No, Johnny.”
Child: “I want it!”
Mom: “No, no, no, Johnny! Now, be good.”
Child: “I want it, NOW!”
Mom: “Okay, okay, if you will be good, I’ll just give it to you.”
The problem with this mindset is right now little Johnny still lives inside many of you. Only now, Johnny wants a boat, a truck, a motorcycle, or whatever. You've got to get control of the little kid inside and train him to shut up.