Focus: Money matters
Romans 13:7-8 (NIV) Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Money, or the lack of money is one of the primary causes of depression for many people. You owe money you haven’t paid, or somebody owes you and they’re not paying. Either way, this kind of a problem can cause you to be distracted because of the guilt you feel, or offended.
Let’s talk first about not paying bills. A long time ago, I was in a car accident and wasn’t able to work for a few weeks. I was young and inexperienced…and depressed. I had been sick for a few weeks before the accident and was already behind on my payments when I was seriously injured in the car crash. It didn’t matter that the wreck wasn’t my fault, the bills continued to come, anyway.
I was afraid, but had no idea what to do. I stopped opening the mail…which was a big mistake. In a sense, ‘I put my head in a hole’, thinking, ‘If I don’t look at it, maybe it will go away.’ That was pretty stupid.
I was given some advice that I thought wouldn’t work. It was suggested to me that I should call my creditors and ask them if I could pay part of the bill and start making small weekly payments to work toward paying it off. I thought there was no chance that kind of a plan would work, but I made the calls. I was surprised to find that most of my creditors were willing to work with me. I made the decision to get serious with the problem I had created and was able to get things paid off after a while. It took sacrifice and discipline, but it was worth it.
It’s not a good idea to spend money you don’t have, and it also isn’t good to not pay bills you owe. Not paying bills goes against how God wants us to live. It’s not honest to owe money and not pay it. God wants us to live honest lives. No wonder people get depressed when they haven’t paid their bills—they’re not being honest. As a result, guilt hangs over their heads and causes all kinds of other problems.
People have a tendency to become very defensive when they owe money they’re not paying. Communication becomes difficult. Often, people search for reasons why they shouldn’t have to pay what they owe, as an excuse.
No matter how hard someone tries to justify their reasons for not paying—the fact remains, they owe a debt that they agreed to pay. If the debt was owed to them—they would want the person who owed them, to pay it.
So, if we are living by the Word of God that tells us to live honestly and do unto others as we would want them to do unto us—then we’d better not act like the debt we agreed to pay—and haven’t paid, is somebody else’s fault. Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, ‘Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.’
So what about when somebody owes you a debt they’re not paying? Years ago, I sold a retail business I had owned and operated to a young couple. They were eager to have a business of their own and I thought they seemed honest.
The couple agreed to pay me a reasonable amount for the inventory and we put together a payment plan that I knew would be fair and reasonable, considering the store’s cash flow. I typed up a contract and took it to an attorney and the law office put the whole thing together in a very ‘legal looking’ document. We all had our signatures notarized and it looked like everything was going to work out great. I was moving out of state and was ready to have someone else take over the thriving little craft store I had worked hard to develop.
Only a couple of months after I moved, I stopped getting payments. The couple still owed me several thousand dollars. I went to another attorney in the state I had moved to. I was told the sobering news that I would have a hard time defending my contract, since it was a small business, and I now lived in another state.
This happened to me not once, but twice. It took a few years before I was able to forgive the people who had basically robbed me. I carried the resentment during those years and allowed it to affect my well-being. I finally just had to give my injured feelings to God and prayerfully release the people from responsibility—believing that God would take care of my needs without the money they weren’t willing to pay me. It’s not easy to let people off the hook when you’ve been offended, but when you do—your load is lighter.
Declaration: I will find new strength by being responsible with money matters. If I owe money—I will pay it. If I have wronged someone, I will attempt to make restitution. I will forgive and release those who have taken advantage of me, knowing God my Father forgave my sin—which was a debt I could never pay.
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