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Breaking the chains of credit card debt

January 14, 2008

by Pastor Steve Basney, Open Arms Community Church, Howard Lake

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of having fun with family and friends, along with giving gifts to the people we care about. The gifts reflect the heart of God, who so loved the world that He gave the greatest gift of all; His only begotten Son.

Unfortunately, many of us overdo a good thing with our gift-giving. The joy of Christmas is soon replaced by the stress of debt as many struggle to make even the minimum payments on those credit cards.

Although credit is not entirely a bad thing, relying heavily upon credit and being in debt is a losing proposition. On average, consumers spend 23 percent more with credit cards than when they pay with cash.

According to a recent article by the Consumer Credit Service of Atlanta – for those who carried a balance of debt on their cards – the average household amount is close to $10,000, and the interest paid on those balances can be as high as $1,800 a year. That’s $150 a month that could be better used for other purposes.

The scriptures are clear in showing that God desires for you to be free from debt. Debt has a way of putting someone other than God in the position of being your master. Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

In addition, indebtedness hinders your ability to give financially to the furtherance of the gospel, it hinders your ability to help the less fortunate, and can even undermine your Christian witness.

I would like to offer some simple steps you can take to eliminate credit card debt and move towards financial freedom.

1. Don’t accept debt as normal. This may require a change of thinking, but commit yourself to removing debt from your life.

2. Make a commitment not to take on any more debt. This isn’t always possible, but it should be the goal. Whenever possible, pay with cash, check, or debit cards.

3. Pay extra on the cards with the highest interest rates so they can be paid off as soon as possible. If all of the rates are equal, then start with the smallest one first and work your way up. With every debt that is paid off, you gain more confidence that you can eventually reach your goal of being debt-free.

4. Develop a realistic budget and stick to it, living only within your means. Again, this may require a change of thinking as well as a change of lifestyle, but it will help you get out of the bondage of being in debt.

My prayer is that 2008 will find you living full on for Christ, experiencing His peace and blessing, and moving towards financial freedom in order to serve Him more effectively.

For a more detailed discussion of debt and personal finances go to www.openarmshl.org and click on Lets Talk!