Thank God for Credit Cards!

By glblguy

Bible on the beach

“Thank God for Credit Cards!” where the words spoken my our neighbor and minister’s wife while talking one evening at our local Toys-R-Us. We had taken the kids over to Toys-R-Us to help them come up with their Christmas list. While browsing through the store, we heard a friend shout “Hey!” (southern speak for Hello) and looked around to find our neighbor also in the store doing the same thing. The conversation focused around Christmas and the amount of gifts we where buying this year and how much they would cost. I mentioned we were much better off this year as we had been saving gradually for Christmas throughout the year. She looked at us, laughed and said “Thank God for Credit Cards!”.

I was floored and a little disappointed. To think this is one thing, but to verbalize it was another. I was honestly shocked to hear this statement come from the wife of minister. After further thought and discussion with my wife, it did make me realize how confused society is about what the Christian Bible says about debt and how much people think that credit cards and in particular debt is a normal part of life. Credit cards aren’t mentioned in the Bible, for good reason: they didn’t exist. In general though, many scriptures advises that debt should be avoided, but it isn’t a sin. Many scriptures also show that the way to wealth is through saving and living on less not through the use of debt.

Here are 5 biblical reasons why thanking God for credit cards makes no sense what-so-ever:

1 – God doesn’t want you to be a slave

Proverbs 22:7 – “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

This is probably the most frequently referenced scripture verse from the Bible but rightly so. When  you borrow money you indeed become servant to the lender. When you use credit cards, the credit card company has control over you. They can bump up your interest, charge you incredibly expensive late fees, ding your credit and even sue you for failure to pay. The Bible doesn’t say debt is a sin, but it doesn’t advocate it anywhere. Debt should be used for dire emergencies only.

2 – God says we should owe no one

Romans 13:8 – “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

In Romans, Paul tells us that we should owe no man nothing. Note, this doesn’t specifically say anything about money but is inclusive of money and anything else we might owe somebody. What this verse is really saying is pay back what you have agreed to pay. If you owe somebody something, give it back. This includes paying your bills and paying back your debts (with interest).

3 – God wants us to trust Him, not credit cards

Hebrews 13:5 – “Stay away from the love of money;  be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.”

Proverbs 11:28 – Trust in your money and down you go!

Many people use credit cards because they don’t trust that God will provide for them. When their bank account runs low, they rush out and get a cash advance. When their car gets old, they run out and buy a new car on credit assuming the old car will die soon. Why not wait, begin saving the money and trust that God will provide for you until you can afford that new car?

Trust that God will provide you with what you need and be patient that He will do so. Doing so will strengthen the relationship you have with him and provide you with a sense of peace beyond comprehension.

4 – If you lack the means to pay, than don’t use them

Proverbs 22: 26-27 – “Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge, or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.”

Personally, we have completely removed credit cards from my life. I am just flat out disciplined enough to use them nor do I find that I actually need them. I cut mine up a year ago and haven’t needed one since. That does not mean that everyone needs to do this. Some people are very disciplined and organized and do fine using credit cards, and even earn money through rewards and points programs. The key message from God is if you can’t pay back what you buy using them, than don’t use them. It’s really that simple.

5 – A continued state of debt will keep us from being wealthy

Luke 16:11, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

This is a pretty strong message for us from God through Luke. If we can’t manage our finances, how can we be trusted with the greater riches of life? As Proverbs 13:11 says “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”  When you save money, even small amounts, your money will grow. Debt keeps this from happening. If you are in debt, you are just using that money to pay back your debt. The money isn’t growing. Debt is a weight that keeps you from moving as quickly as you can. If you had a 100lbs backpack on your back in a race, would you not remove it in order to run faster and win?


26 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Thank God for Credit Cards!”

  1. Amanda D Says:

    Ehh….I see your point. I think that CC’s are a tool that are NOT inherently good or bad, but it’s how you use the tool. If you use the tool in a responsible way that honors God & is following with the lessons He teaches in scripture, I don’t really have a problem with it. The stock market and life insurance aren’t mentioned in the Bible either, but using those tools has more to do with the conditions of your heart. I think saving for retirement and having life insurance are responsible things, as long as you don’t let them top your devotion to God and realize that no matter how prepared you are for somethings in life, God is still in control and the ultimate provider.

    I’d suggest reading God, Possesions and Eternity. A great book by Randy Alcorn- the same author as the Treasure Principle (a good starter book on faith & finances).

  2. FinanceAndFat Says:

    “Thank God for Credit Cards!” – that sounds really bad. Even worse considering the source. You laid out a great list of reasons why we shouldn’t be in debt. Funny thing is, I’m a Christian, I have surely read all of those verses in my life, but they never came to my mind. I never thought about becoming a slave to my lender when I bought things on credit cards. I see the foolishness now, but I never made the connection before. I don’t know what the disconnect is, but borrowing on credit is sort of just the American way these days.

  3. Laura Says:

    I love the book of Proverbs! So many good principles even if you’re looking at it for financial advice. Proverbs 22: 26-27 offers the root of how to save yourself a lot of financial heartache. Don’t spend what you don’t have.

    Credit cards are a convience for me if my car breaks down in the midddle of nowhere, but it’s also tempting to use it at the store. To be on the safe side, I try to leave my credit card behind at home unless I’m going out of town.

  4. Mrs. Micah Says:

    What’s so sad is that they aren’t channeling their energies towards a less commercial Christmas. They could focus with their children on the “reason for the season” (trite as it sounds). They could find ways to make it fun and frugal.

    Instead, they’re probably feeling all the pressure of the holidays and don’t see another solution.

  5. Lynnae @ Being Frugal Says:

    Wow, that’s really sad. Though I never thought about being a slave to the lender until I really made a commitment to get out of debt. Now I think about that on a daily basis.

    I think in today’s society, people have a hard time with point #4. I try to imagine what things were like before credit cards. If you needed some nails, maybe you would offer your neighbor some flour in trade. Now it’s pretty much expected that if you can’t afford to pay right now, you put it on credit. Not good.

  6. Roshawn @ Watson Inc Says:

    The biggest problem with credit cards is that they make debt so accessible (just like HELOCs). As you have mentioned in your post about Chase, they lure you in with teasers interest rates but then raise up to ridiculously high APRs. Avoidance is my strategy of choice, but I do agree that some people are incredibly disciplined with them. Sadly, many people think they are more discipline than they are or don’t think about what they are getting in to before they sign the dotted line (like college students).

  7. Randy Peterman Says:

    Another thing to consider: credit is not a form of provision as specified in the Bible as part of a healthy congregation. When believers see each other in need they are encouraged to give and support other believers. Christmas gift money doesn’t seem to be in the equation. Nobody needs to go into debt for Christmas presents since they’re not even a critical part of Christmas. I know more than one family that doesn’t even do presents simply because they find the presents distracting compared to the initial celebration of Christ.

    Great post!

    Randy

  8. glblguy Says:

    @Amanda D – I agree, they are just plastic. I would argue that the credit card companies themselves though, while maybe not “evil” are not looking out for your best interests. I would also agree that if used VERY carefully and responsibly they can be relatively safe. There is always a risk of messing up or forgetting or even the card company making mistake they can totally blow your plans. To me it is a risk that isn’t worth the advantages. Good point on insurance. That would actually make a great article topic :-) Thanks for the book suggestion and for the great comment.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @FinanceAndFat – I agree, it does sound bad. I was right there with you, read the verses but never made the connection until I felt the sting of being slave to the lender. Funny how that works huh? I agree it has become the American way which is sad. Over the past 30-40 years we’ve gone from a country with no credit cards to a country that believes you can’t live without them. Thanks for your comment.

  10. glblguy Says:

    @Laura – Hi Laura. I love Proverbs as well. I also enjoy anything written by Paul. Rather than carry a credit card, why not carry a debit card linked to an emergency fund?

  11. glblguy Says:

    @Mrs Michah – To be honest, I am not really sure they care, but I should be careful not to judge them. I am looking for opportunities to share my learnings with them. It is just hard as I am not sure they are really open to it. They seem materialistic, with is concerning. Great suggestion though on refocusing.

  12. glblguy Says:

    @Lynnae – I think about it daily to, and it influences my writing here on Gather Little by Little a great deal. Your point is similar to FinanceAndFat’s…how did we so quickly go from no credit cards to relying on them so much?

  13. glblguy Says:

    @Roshawn – Very good points. Avoidance is my strategy as well…extreme avoidance to me more precise. Thanks for you comment, and welcome to Gather Little by Little!

    @Randy – Hi Randy! No presents, what an interesting concept. Good points, and emphasizes my concerns about how materialistic and commercial Christmas has become. Through all the decorations, presents, parties, shopping, etc. we seem to slowly be forgetting the real reason for the season. After all, it is called CHRISTmas. It’s weird how that is so easy to forget. Thanks for stopping by Randy.

  14. Stacy Says:

    Just want to remind you that neither the pastor, nor his wife, are perfect. (I am a pastor’s wife!) The temptations and trappings of this world are just as real for us. We have sins that Christ needed to come into this world for, live in our place for, and suffer and die for. We celebrate His arrival with you this Christmas!

  15. glblguy Says:

    Hi Stacy. I don’t think I stated they were, only that the comment surprised me. Please don’t misunderstand, I know none of us here on earth are perfect. Merry Christmas, and thanks for your kind reminder.

  16. Skellie Says:

    We got a letter from our bank yesterday that basically said “You qualify for a 5,000 credit card. Just sign here and send it back and we’ll send one out to you.” Funny timing, eh. They really prey on people when they’re vulnerable — particularly because they know most parents never feel as if they can give their kids enough at Christmas.

    While I’m confident I could keep a credit card under control, I have no desire for one. A good friend of mine has maxed out two credit cards and is crippled by debt. No thank you.

  17. glblguy Says:

    Hi Skellie! Funny timing is right! My wife and I have received more credit card offers in the past 2 months that all year combined. It’s crazy the number of trees they kill. I agree as well, they due prey on people…prey…good word choice. I have no desire either and get a great deal of pleasure shredding those card offers. I even let my kids do it so they can learn about it. I was crippled, but slowly getting better. It’s a long road that just isn’t worth it. Thanks for dropping by!

  18. Bev Says:

    This was a great post!

  19. glblguy Says:

    Thank you Bev.

  20. Brenda Says:

    Like any other product, credit cards can be a useful tool or they can be abused. When I got my first credit card in my 20′s, I made the decision to learn control by subtracting every item charged from my checkbook, right at the time of purchase (confused more than one store clerk seeing me pull out my checkbook register after I gave them my credit card!!)

    Using this method, when the credit card bill arrived, I knew I had the money to pay the bill in full, since each item charged was already subtracted from my check book balance.

    Now, 30 years later, I don’t do the actual write-it-in-the-check-register routine, because the end result is the same. Every credit card bill is paid IN FULL every month every time.

    Utilizing credit cards this way has the credit card companies SERVING ME!! I am using THEIR money, for FREE, for an entire month. And getting cash back to boot. Meanwhile MY money earns interest for a month.

    The point being that credit cards in and of themselves are not bad (or good). What is bad or good is how a person views and uses them. Are they a financial tool to utilize? Or are they a method to spend more than you earn and get things you otherwise could not afford?

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