To those who still have a chance to change their financial habits for good;
…”PAY YOUR DEBT AND LIVE ON THE REST”…
2 Kings 4:1-7
The issue of finance is a dear and tender issue to us all. This statement could rule out children under the age of five, but once you cast your mind back to some of the little kids at your local church, you will see that even the younger children have some sort of understanding of money. If you don’t believe me, watch a few kids at your next service and you will notice how they too want to participate in throwing the envelope in to the offering basket. Better yet, walk a child into your closest corner shop and give them 5p. You will be surprised as to how they begin to twiddle the 5p in their hand as they assume the stance of a young entrepreneur buying his first car.
I say all this emphasise that the issue of money is something that we all face. The confusing thing is that most believers feel that ‘debt is not my portion in Jesus name’, which is what we usually shout 7 times at our New Years Eve service, but in fact, some of us are dealing with that portion right now.
In 2 Kings 4:1, the Bible explains that a creditor was coming to take away someone’s children which gives us a hint that the present issue is about an outstanding debt. Another thing to notice is that the woman crying was the wife of a God fearing man, who was also the son of a prophet. This sentence alone backs up my point of saying that debt is not as spiritual as many people think. We must keep in mind that as Christians we are not immune from falling into financial difficulty. Debt is not an attack from the enemy. Debt is not a curse, but instead the outcome of lack of ones understanding and mindset on finances!
I will try my hardest to explain why I believe this.
In this scripture, it was the debt of ‘a God fearing man’ that pushed his family so far to the wall that this woman was faced with the predicament of having her children taken away. The issue of debt had pushed this family so far that the lineage of this family was about to be wiped out. I am not a mother, but for those who are, I can assume that you will agree with me if I was to say that your children are in most situations your source of hope and strength when you feel like giving up. So in this case, the issue of debt was about to rid this mother of the very thing that was giving her hope and strength. But with the little strength she had, she ran to the man of God. In your times of difficulty, who do you run to?
And to those who are in the place of mentorship or leadership, are you available to those who to the naked eye seem in distress? Are you in tune with God to even give instructions on finance as Elisha did? Or are you also drowning in the sea of financial distress?
2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.
In some cases, we may find that the very thing we are holding dear is the thing that God wants to use to bring about our breakthrough. All she had was a jar of oil, so the conclusion may have been to sell that jar of oil. But if she would have sold the jar of oil, would the payment have been enough? If it would have been enough, how would she have survived with her two kids after the debt was cleared? Obviously she would have had to start borrowing from people again until she found her feet. But God knew that there was more to do. After all God knows all things and is‘10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure… (Isaiah 46:10)’. So He instructed Elisha to tell her to use the last thing she had to ignite the business that would set her up for life.
The widow obeyed. She was even able to adhere to the small print in the contract…”borrow not a few”. As we come to read the end of the story, we realise that the oil ceased with the last container she borrowed which confirms that in a sense, we have the power to limit our own blessing. That sounds scary but it is true. How many times has God given you a word with a clause? Something like, ‘knock and the door will be open to you (Luke 11:9)’ or ‘By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life’ (Proverbs 22:4)? Then compare that to how many times we still knock on the doors of our best friends in times of hardship instead of Gods, or stand on man made pedal stools instead of allowing God to humble us?
The instructions Elisha gave were for her to “3…borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. 4And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”
The lady obeyed. She shut the door to her discouraging friends, to the pointing fingers, to the pride of the enemy and with her children dived in full force. With her act of obedience she also came back to the avenue of her blessing. So instead of just taking the first words and running with half a vision, she actually came back to the man of God to give a report, and therefore received greater words from God.
“7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.”
This scripture excites me because I am so sure that this woman sold oil to the neighbours she borrowed from. It’s like someone temporarily giving you an empty house free of charge; you then furnish it, and then sell it back to the person that borrowed it to you in the first place!! It sounds mad, but that was how she made the money to pay her debt and more, which confirms that God truly does work in mysterious ways.
The last thing that Elisha said was for the woman to ‘…PAY THY DEBT AND LIVE…[ON] THE REST”. It sounds so simple, and it actually can be!
For young people my age who are beginning to form money habits that will shape their mindsets financially, take the time to actually ponder on what Elisha told this woman. So start from the beginning which was probably your first overdraft or credit card or your first car, and while we still have very few financial commitments get into the habit of paying off your debt and living on the rest each month. If your wages do not accommodate your expenses, then you need to re-assess the things you’re buying.
If you are past the stage of early financial commitments and you feel that you are too deep in debt to pay off your debts little by little each month, then think about downsizing on a few things. Maybe you don’t need to buy a monthly bus pass just to take the bus to the station which is a 20minute walk away from your work place. Maybe you don’t need to upgrade your phone every 9 months, or better yet maybe you can actually survive with only one mobile phone which will surprisingly add up to one mobile phone bill a month. Maybe you don’t need to buy £4 of lunch every day at work. Buy a reusable plastic container and eat the left over rice from last night for lunch; pack your food from home and save that £20 a week (£80 a month) and put it towards your next Tax Disc. Or instead of doing the weekly shopping at Sainsbury’s, why not go to Aldi or Netto for a few weeks. There are many ways in which we can use the wisdom God has given us to reduce the financial stress on our homes.
If you still feel that you can not downsize enough to rebuild your credit, then maybe you need to seek God for help as this woman did. Help will not come in a form of another business, because that will eat in to money you don’t have. Instead, work with what you have in your hand. Build on something that won’t cost you anything. Use your gifts. If you can do hair, let your neighbours, family and friends know. Be bold and charge people for it. If you are good with kids, let your friends, family and neighbours know so that if you have free hours on the weekend you can baby sit and get some extra money. God made this woman borrow vessels based on the fact that He wanted to multiply the little oil that she had left. The oil was hers; it was not bought on credit. It was her last possession, and that is what God used.
Earlier I made a comment that debt is not as spiritual as many people think concluding that debt is as a result of lack of understanding. I say that because if debt was in fact an attack or a curse, do you not think God would have given you prayer points in order to reverse the attack or the curse by now?. But like this woman, God gave her wisdom for her finances and told her to pay her debt and then live off the rest. So pray that God will set you free from the bondage of money mismanagement. Seek knowledge; be in the habit of trying to understand financial risks and clauses. For example, there is no point getting a credit card and ignoring it by paying the minimum payments every month because once you pay it off, the interest would have set you further back than where you started.
God is ready to pour out wisdom from heaven to bring you out of your situation. The woman could have become disheartened as she may have thought of giving away her last possession, but instead she obeyed and that last jar of oil paid off her debt and more.
So ask God to show you practical ways of how to run your finances. Stop eating your tomorrow today, and live a life that honours God.
Palangfat Jama xx