The hum of the shredder gave me a sense of satisfaction. I was getting rid of credit cards. I had several department store cards that I had paid off, but for “security” I had kept them. Who knew when I might need them for a major purchase for which I couldn’t pay cash? It had taken a while, but I had finally learned that I needed to trust in the Lord to make a way for me, instead of depending on banks that issue credit cards, whose only objective was increasing their bottom line with money paid in interest out of my pocket.
Credit card debt is the hardest debt to pay down due to the fact that it is “revolving” debt, which means that as long as you have an available balance, you can continue to charge. It is easy to tell yourself that you aren’t really spending any hard-earned cash when you flip that little card out to pay for a purchase. Then reality sets in when the bill arrives. When minimum payments are made and the card is continually being used, the interest spirals out of control and it takes years to pay off the balance. By that time, you will have paid double, triple, or more of the original amount owed, depending on the interest rate.
So, are credit cards evil? Not in of themselves. They are tools of finance and, just like money, it depends on how you use them. Money itself is not evil, but we are told in 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” I have a one store credit card that I use for every purchase I make in that store, because certain benefits and discounts go along with charging the purchase. When the bill comes in, though, I pay at least a third of the outstanding balance, which releases me from any interest charges. This way I can shop a good sale a couple of times a year and not pay a high interest rate, which could negate any savings gained by buying items on sale. Also, I never charge anywhere near the credit limit the store has set for me on this card. I have my own limit, one which is workable within my budget.
Credit cards require discipline, though. If you have a tendency to overuse that little piece of plastic, it would be a good idea for you perform major surgery on them, i.e. cut them up. This is usually the first step required by credit counselors who are helping individuals get their finances in order. Shopping addiction, which is oftentimes fed by credit card use, is as real and as serious as an addiction to gambling, alcohol, or overeating.
We are given a formula for managing our income in Malachi 4:10: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” God not only tells us how we will be blessed by tithing, he says if we are lacking faith to believe it, He will prove it to us.
Putting God’s principles into action by tithing is a way to make sure we have all we need for our families. Having too much money can be a detriment to our happiness, just as having too little. Paul said it best in his letter to the Philippians, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). True contentment can’t be bought, but comes from living our lives in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.