Poverty is a lack of money or material possessions. Poverty is usually accompanied by debt obligations to others. Debt, whether or not associated with poverty, is a form of slavery. Following God’s principles will break the hold of both poverty and debt.
First of all, you must commit yourself, your finances, your family, and your life to Jesus Christ. Agree to live by God’s principles and seek to know what He has to say to you in your situation. Be absolutely honest about the faults and mistakes in your life, past or present, that may have caused your problem of debt. To escape trouble, you must know what put you there.
Second, do everything you can to understand God’s principles. The Bible says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). There are many Christians who have no concept whatsoever of the principles of God’s kingdom. They understand neither God’s laws dealing with material prosperity nor their own privileges as children of God. So, for lack of knowledge, they suffer.
People in debt or in poverty especially need to understand a rule of God’s kingdom that I call the Law of Reciprocity. This is a law of cause and effect, of action and reaction. In the area of money, the law is simple: “Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). When a person begins to give to God’s work and to the poor and less fortunate, God begins to give back to him. Regardless of the debt burden, a person should give a very minimum of 10 percent of his income to the Lord. Even if you are at a poverty-level income, you have something you can give to God. Start where you are. Reach out in compassion to those less fortunate than yourself. As a first priority, get into a position to give love, time, energy, and money to other people even if it is only a little bit.
Next, set up a realistic budget. Most people do not have budgets, and their spending has neither plan nor control. Whatever your income level, you should set up a budget that includes one or more tithes (see Chapter Eight, Question Eighteen) plus offerings to the Lord, which may be in the form of aid to those who are less fortunate (see Malachi 3:10). After setting aside your tithe, establish a realistic plan to pay off your debts. Go to your creditors and obtain an agreement that they will accept your payment schedule. Make it understood that you cannot pay any more than a certain amount, and they will almost always accept your plan.
Once you have done that, you have to resolve in your mind that there will be no more accumulation of debt. You cannot go back to living beyond your means. Make a vow to God that you will not buy anything on credit, and that your lifestyle will be curtailed to fit your income. This takes a definite mental and spiritual commitment. It may take a year, or two years, or five years, but you are going to get out of debt.
It has been suggested by a very wise businessman that part of any budget should go for recreation. There should be some time each month when the family can get away from the pressures of life. Maybe it can be a picnic in the park, a fishing trip, or possibly a night away from home in a motel or resort. Recreation includes anything to get away from the constant pressure and to allow your mind to be recreated in God.
Along with recreation, I recommend a Sabbath rest. You cannot work seven days a week. There must be one day a week that is dedicated to God, to thinking about Him, praying to Him, studying the Bible, and resting. All of these things are necessary to prepare your mind and spirit to win the battle.
Then, with all of these things going for you, you need a renewed faith in God. He is the source. As you give to Him and trust Him, God will begin to take you from bondage to debt into His blessings. He will open doors for you and will give you concepts and ideas to help you overcome your situation. You must believe this and expectantly look for His answer rather than to some other person as your source. God is your source.
Every day, speak words of confidence. Say out loud that you are going to be free from debt and that God is going to put you in a different position. Memorize scripture verses where God says things such as, “He raises the poor from the dust/And lifts the beggar from the ash heap./To set them among princes” (I Samuel 2:8). Speak these words over and over again, confidently, knowing that God can do all things and do them well.
With that frame of mind, you should be on your way. It may take a year to pay off your debts. In the instances that I know of, the average was about eighteen months. But it may take three, four, or even five years. You will win the battle if you use the weapons that God has made available to you! You can be debt free!