“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” – Matthew 5:37
“Yes” is one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary. I’m not talking about the easy yes spoken to a waiter offering us dessert. I’m talking about the yes of commitment. It’s the yes spoken on an altar – “To have and to hold, for better or for worse.” It’s the yes spoken to a friend challenging us to run a marathon later in the year when the only running we do are the errands we “run” in our car. And it’s the yes of committing to get out of debt.
Last month we began a discussion of debt with the point that living at our full credit card limit wasn’t exactly what Christ meant when he said he came that we might have life to the full (John 10:10). In fact, the Bible describes debt as a form of bondage (Proverbs 22:7). This month we’re getting more practical with three action steps toward getting out of debt and staying out of debt forever.
The first step is to make a Commitment. You may have no idea how you’re ever going to get out of debt. It may seem impossible. It may seem crazy or meaningless or even trite to make such a commitment. Do it anyway. You see, if it’s your hope to get out of debt, if it seems like a good idea, if you’re sure it’s something you’ll get around to someday, one day, you probably never will. But a firm, “let-your-“Yes”-be-“Yes” commitment in faith to pursue a God-honoring goal such as getting out of debt is bound to succeed (Proverbs 16:3).
The second practical step is to ask someone for his or her encouragement and Accountability. The Bible teaches us not to travel alone: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) Telling a friend about your commitment to get out of debt may rearrange your bones; it’ll also rearrange your steps every time you’re tempted to veer off track.
The third step is to pull together the Numbers that show where you are right now. That means listing all of your consumer debts: credit cards on which you carry a balance from month to month, vehicle loans, student loans, personal loans – every debt except a mortgage. List the current balance for each debt, this month’s minimum required payment, the minimum monthly payment as a percentage of the balance (minimum payment divided by balance), and the annual percentage rate (APR). This may take a little time, and it may be uncomfortable. But it’s essential to have a complete understanding of your current debts. And it’s essential prep work for next month’s steps.
If you’re ready to become free from the bondage of consumer debt: Make a firm Commitment; line up an Accountability partner; and gather the Numbers on where you are right now. No matter how much debt you have, you CAN become debt-free. Next month, four more steps toward getting and staying out of debt.