Anyone who knows me knows that I am a gigantic fan of the financial expert/ talk show host Dave Ramsey. Anyone who knows Dave Ramsey knows how much he HATES debt.
I couldn’t help but think of him when I read this Pastor Craig’s Fight Devotional.
“Lust makes us think, I want it.
Entitlement is that little voice that takes “I want it” and adds “…and I deserve it”:
I work hard. I’ve earned some extra.
I’ve spent a lot of money at this place over the years. I deserve a little payback.
I’m not getting my needs met at home. And sometimes a guy’s just gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.”
A common call to The Dave Ramsey Show usually involves a spouse who wants desperately to get the family finances on the right track. The other spouse is not interested and even though the couple is in debt up to their eyeballs (six-figure debt is not uncommon) the spouse still wants to buy something that will plunge the family further into debt. The conversation between Ramsey and the caller usually goes something like this:
“So he wants to buy a new truck even though you are this far into debt?”
“Yes,” the spouse responded. “He said he works hard and thinks he deserves it.”
“Why don’t you tell him to call the ‘waaahhhhmbulance?'” Ramsey would reply caustically. “Tell him to grow up. We’re all working hard out here.”
America in the 21st Century is rife with entitlement. It’s part of what is fueling things like credit card debt, student loan debt, and the widespread misery in our culture. Lest you think this is going to turn into an anti-Capitalist screed, let me assure you that’s not the case. I love capitalism. it results in prosperous nations and, as I heard Dave Ramsey comment on one of his legendary rants, it gives little guys (like your faithful blogger here) and girls the best chance to elevate themselves into a state of prosperity.
But, as with anything else, Capitalism has its setbacks. Mainly in terms of greed. Take the barely-clothed women on the TV set that the Pastor wrote of yesterday. Unless those women are on a Public Television special, they are on a TV show that is designed to sell you something. “Sex sells” as they say and anyone in advertising will tell you that the TV show is merely the thing that occupies the space in between the commercials.
And if the TV show has a demographic that doesn’t respond well to sexed-up fare, you can bet there will be images of products specifically placed, lighted, located and presented in a way that will appeal to get you to buy it.
That is the key word.
Last year, given the usual promises and demands between presidential hopefuls and the voting public, combined with the fact that the beloved actor Gene Wilder (star of the dark family comedy “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”) died led me to coin the term “Veruca Salt Nation” to describe the current state of affairs. Veruca Salt being the spoiled little girl in the above-mentioned movie.
But chances are pretty good that we can’t have what we want right now. In generations prior to the 1950s that usually meant we would have to save our money to get the things we wanted. But with commercials getting us hot and bothered and leaving us with a sense of unfulfillment unless we get the product advertised, we look for other ways to get it.
Financial institutions, given the fact they are full of perfectly intelligent men and women, began to peddle credit cards and loans to people desperately searching to scratch their itches. And those of us who thought a sheepskin from a university was the way to the prosperity we saw advertised on TV decided to take out student loans to get there instead of working, planning, and saving to get the job done.
And the results are just as disgusting as when Samson stuck his fist in the carcass of the dead animal to obtain honey in the Book of Judges, as Pastor Craig wrote in today’s devotional.
Currently, your faithful blogger is $86,000+ in the hole for student loans. It is a sickening thought that my family might not get an inheritance from me or have niceties like a college fund because my money was tied up in the mess that I chose to make by taking out loans. It frustrates me to no end that, due to the fact that I am cleaning my financial affairs up, I cannot marry the wonderful woman that God has sent me in a more timely manner. I hate being the live-in boyfriend. I want to be her husband. Not to mention the fact that I believe people are better and families are on surer footing when the couple makes a written, legal contract with and for themselves- let alone the spiritual component. Only recently have I begun the biblical practice of tithing the full amount, yet it frustrates me that, for the most part, I can’t give offerings like I want to. And that hurts. Because one of the things I believe the Lord Jesus has brought out to me recently is that, despite my previous greed, in my heart, I am a giver or at the very least I want to give.
It’s also sickening to hear of the marriages and lives destroyed because the financial stress and strain finally caused the walls to cave-in. One example from a Dave Ramsey book I read was two college students in Oklahoma committed suicide together after getting in over their heads on credit cards that were aggressively marketed on their college campus. Next to their dead bodies were their credit card statements.
And these things we lust after, whether it’s the porn I wrote about yesterday or the finances that I write about now, the results could be fatal as the Apostle James wrote in his epistle:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
I do not believe it’s unbiblical to try to better our financial situation in life. But as I sit here, I cannot help but wonder what Samson’s life, and my life, would have looked like up until this point if we, while working toward better our station in life, remained for the time being content in what God gave us in the first place.
Perhaps that honey would not have been sauteed with the rotting carcass of a lions innards.