“Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” (2 Kings 4:1-7 ESV).
According to the 2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study, the average U.S. household owes…
– Credit cards: $16,061
– Mortgages: $172,806
– Auto loans: $28,535
– Student loans: $49,042
Americans are enslaved by debt. And the side effects are devastating. Clinical depression, anxiety, addictions, divorce, homelessness… these are among the terrible side effects of financial indebtedness. We’re like the widow who cried out to the prophet Elijah, worried that the creditors were going to come take away her children. We are in desperate condition when it comes to debt.
The truth is, our financial condition says a lot about our spiritual condition. I think that’s why the Bible has so much to say about money and about living debt free. We know that Christ came to set us free from our sin debt. So, why would we want to live with worldly debt? Yet, many of us are in bondage because of indebtedness.
How can we get free from this slavery to debt? How can we live in financial freedom? The four biblical principles found in the story of the widow and Elijah reveal how to live debt free. When we place our trust in God’s Word and in His provision, we can live in financial freedom.
4 Steps to Living Debt Free
- Recognize your debt problem. Debt is gambling with your future. The widow’s husband died and left her penniless and poor. He was a preacher’s kid, but he obviously wasn’t following godly wisdom with his money. But the widow recognized the problem. She knew that things had to change or her sons would be taken as slaves. The first step to getting debt free, is admitting that you have a problem. Facing the fact of your debt addiction is half the battle.
- Seek wise financial counsel. Most of us have trouble admitting when we have a problem, but we have even more trouble asking for help. Americans don’t like revealing their finances to someone else. We say it’s because we’re private about our finances. But I suspect it’s because we’re secretive. We don’t want anyone to know how foolish we’ve been and how far we are in the hole financially. The widow was both humble enough and wise enough to ask for help. Find a godly and mature believer who will counsel you with your finances. Ask for help.
- Follow their godly advice. When you go to the doctor they diagnose your problem and give you a prescription. But then, it’s up to you to take the medicine as prescribed in order to get better. You have to actually follow the doctor’s instructions. The widow did exactly what the prophet Elisha told her. She faithfully worked the plan that he gave her, depending on the Lord to bless her as she was obedient to His word. This is where the work takes place. And it’s also where the Lord begins to bless as you obey.
- Live beneath your means to stay debt free. Don’t make the mistake of going back into debt after getting out. Just as dieters are tempted to overeat after they’ve denied themselves and lost weight, so the one who has been keeping a tight budget to get out of debt will be tempted to splurge after they get free. Remember, it was the habit of living beyond your means that got you into trouble in the first place. Don’t go back into debt! Keep on living on less than you make. When the widow went back to the prophet to report her progress, he told her to sell the oil, pay off her debts and live off the rest. That’s good and godly advice. Now that you’re debt free…
– Pay God first (tithes and offerings).
– Pay yourself second (savings).
– Live off the rest.
God doesn’t want you to be a slave to the lender. He wants you to be free to serve Him. God wants you to live financially free, so that you can follow Him with all of your heart.