On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 86: Debt I: Everyone’s in Debt

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another.” (Romans 13:8 RSV)

How many have never learned the lesson of keeping expenditures within the limit of their income? So many do not learn to adapt themselves to their circumstances. They borrow and borrow again and again. They become overwhelmed with debt. And the result? So often they become discouraged and disheartened. Sometimes such discouragement leads to “get-rich-quick” schemes like lottery or gambling, all of which cost even more money with the debt circle then widening and widening. Some even resort to illegal or criminal ways to “get rich.” Here’s a few garnered from the internet: Advanced Fee Scams, Inheritance Scam, Lottery Scam, money laundering, money mule, Mystery Shopper, Red Cell, Romance Scam, Secret Shopper and the list goes on and on.

This world makes it even easier to be in debt. Credit card debt is at the top of the list of ways to accumulate debt. Use of a credit card is simply borrowing money at a (usually) outrageous interest rate. One might get an auto loan of a few percentage points; but a credit card “loan” is usually 9% to upwards of 20%. Such “loans” can build up very quickly. Today there are actual companies whose mission is to help people get out of debt – and of course you have to pay them to help you. Now, let’s see. You can pay them through installments – or you can put it on your credit card… And here we go again.

Paying off personal debt usually gets to be a priority when it comes to budgeting income. The cause of God is usually not remembered. Paying off that debt is vitally important these days because we are also duped into thinking that our “credit score” is a description of who we are: the better the score, the better the person. And when it comes to spending, despite the debt we still must have our amusements, entertainments and good food. What does God’s cause get in the end? Leftovers – that is if there is anything left.

In the thirteenth chapter of his letter to the Romans, St. Paul talks about the relationship a Christian has with government. Government is a tool that God uses to keep order in the world. Thus taxes are imposed to pay the costs of keeping such order. In the 7th verse of that chapter, he writes: Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due… . But the key comes in the next verse: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”

(to be continued)

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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