Joyce Meyer - Becoming Debt Free
Welcome to, "Enjoying Everyday Life", we're so glad that you joined us today. Well, today I wanna talk about money, about finances and debt, and learning how to manage our money better. We've got 12 of the guys from our men's home here today, guys, who I'm sure we're going along in life, and something happened that got you off track, and I thought you know probably for at least some of you, money was involved. You're shaking your head, "Yes," and it's amazing how good money can be, and how much good it can do, if it's managed right, but how much damage it does to people's lives if they don't have the right attitude toward it.
And so, I'mma start by reading you a little story, I paraphrased it from a book from Robert Katz, and it was entitled, "If Money Could Talk, What Would It Say"? "I'm depressed and sad because I'm tired of people abusing me, using me for wrong purposes, fighting over me, stealing me, lying, cheating, and committing crimes to get me. I get blamed as some say, for most divorces. I'm tired of fighting with greed all the time. I'm hoarded, I'm stolen, and I'm wasted most of the time, people think I'm their security but I'm not, they act like I'm God and I'm certainly not. I just wish people knew how much good they could do with me, if they treated me right and how blessed their lives could be".
You know, there are two thousand Bible verses that talk about money, 2,000. Jesus talked more about money, than he did heaven and hell, put together. Pretty amazing. It is really a very major part of our lives, and you have to know how to have a proper attitude toward it. 1 Timothy 6:7-10, something we really should just take a little time to sit and think about, "For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that".
Now, you know how well that message goes over, in the society we live in today? It's very difficult to get people who live in a western culture to be content, unless they have everything that seems to be out there. And I've been in a lot of third world countries, and they have very little, and to be honest sometimes even in the midst of their great lack, they are happier, and have a better attitude, than some people who seem to have everything. So, I really think sometimes, the more we have the unhappier we become, and it seems like the more things you have, the more things you want.
Now, I believe God wants to bless us, and I believe that money's fine, money's not evil, it's the love of money that's evil, but we need to be more focused on what we can do for other people with our money, than hoarding it all, and keeping it for ourselves. Which is also difficult because selfishness is ingrained in human nature, without God. "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation, and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs".
I remember one time the Lord told me, there's two tests you have to pass concerning money, how you behave when you don't have enough, and how you behave when you have a lot. And I thought that was interesting, because sometimes the more you have the more it draws you away from God, because we can become self-reliant, we don't have needs, and so it's easy to start depending on the money to take care of us, rather than God. And you know, no matter what we have, no matter how much we have, no matter how much money somebody has invested, it could literally disappear overnight, the way world is. And so, the love of money is evil, but not money. Money actually, can be a great blessing if you learn how to use it to make other people happy.
And the Bible says in Acts, "That it is more blessed to give than to receive," and yet it's so hard for us to get into that area of living to give, rather than living to get. And the thing is, is if you can see the spiritual side of it, you cannot out give God, and so the more you give, the more he's going to do for you, and the more you give, the more you do for other people, the happier you're going to be. The reason why it's more blessed to give, than to receive, is because if you get something you only get the thing, which is good, you know, I'm not against stuff. But when you give, you get joy.
How many of you believe that joy is really much better than things and money? Because no matter what you have, if you have no peace and you have no joy, then what's it worth? It's worth absolutely nothing. So, James Dobson had a great revelation, one time, while he was playing the game, monopoly. Maybe all of you don't know what monopoly is, and I don't have time to go in and explain it, but he was playing very aggressively getting houses and turning them into hotels, and taking everything everyone had, and putting them out of the game and soon everybody had lost all they had, and he had it all.
I underlined that, "He had it all". Because, isn't that what we want? We want to get it all. And that game is a good example of just... I don't care who I take it away from, I don't care what happens to you, I want you to have nothing left, and I want to have it all. Well, it's just a game, but sometimes we can let that kind of an attitude also get into our lives. As he started putting the game away, he began throwing the pieces back in the box, when he suddenly realized, and I want you to get this. "When our lives are over, everything we have gained will go back in the box, so to speak, and someone else will come along and start all over with what we worked all of our lives to get. So, why not spend your life doing something that will last"?
And the Bible tells us, that what we give here, is an eternal thing, I think that people that are real givers, will still be getting blessed in heaven, from what they gave here in the earth. So, let's talk about something that most people don't even think is possible, and that's becoming and living debt-free. You can never do it if you don't believe it's possible. And so, all things are possible with God. You can live debt-free. Debt is very oppressive, it's a very heavy burden, gives people nervous breakdowns, stress of all kinds. It never occurs to these people that they could live debt-free, if they handle their money wisely.
Mark 19:26, "Jesus looked at them and said, 'with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'". That is like my scripture for the year, I wanna really stir myself up in faith again, and just believe there's nothing that God can't do. So, everybody say nice and loud, "I can live debt-free". Boy, doesn't that sound good? A person can never be debt-free if they're addicted to instant gratification. And boy we have a big problem with that today, don't we? We want it, we want it, right now.
But if you ever wanna be debt-free, you have to learn how to be patient and save for what you want, and then pay for it, and not have a debt on it. Being debt-free requires saving money for things you need, and I drew a big circle around "You need," because you see, we think we need a lot of things that we really don't need, or we can even think that we need something that we've already got 50 of at home.
How many of you ladies can see a pair of earrings and think, "Oh, I need those"? I used to buy earrings because they were pretty, and then I didn't have anything to wear them with. And a girl that I buy a lot of my clothes from, she'll have some pretty Jewelry in her shop, and I'll say, "Ew, boy, those are pretty, I want those"! And she'll say, "Now, wait a minute, Joyce, what are you gonna do with them"?
And I wonder how many things you have in your home, in closets and drawers, that you've paid for and have never used one time, and couldn't even find if you needed it. You have to stop spending everything you have and then borrowing more, to get all these things that you want, but really don't need. Now credit cards are great if you can manage 'em, but to be honest, the only way that you should use credit cards, and it may take you a while to get to this point: is to not put anything on them that you cannot pay off at the end of the month. Use them for convenience only, because what most people do is they run up this big credit card debt, and then they make the minimum payment.
You know, you have to be an investor in life, and not a gambler. You can't just do the wrong thing and gamble that you're gonna get a right result, because you won't. I just wrote a book on Proverbs, and boy I'll tell you when you study Proverbs, I mean, you just come out with one conclusion, the wise man is gonna prosper, and the fool is gonna have nothing but a mess in their life, in every single area of their life, and to me, this is my own definition, but I say that, wisdom is doing now what you'll be happy with later on, and foolishness is having this need for instant gratification, and doing things that really just are not wisdom.
So, you cannot be addicted to instant gratification. When we borrow money, we're spending tomorrow's prosperity, today. So, think about that, and then when tomorrow comes, we have to borrow to pay what we owe, and so, it just keeps an unhealthy cycle going in our lives, because we're always, have already spent what we're working for, so then, when it comes time to pay the bills that you have to pay, and buy the things you have to have, then you have no choice but to borrow more money because you gotta use the money have now to pay for what you bought way back there somewhere. And once again, so much of this is due to instant gratification, and not thinking, really thinking, about, "Do I need this"?
Now, there's nothing wrong with buying some things you want, but I will say this, if you're already head over heels in debt, you don't need to be buying a lot of what you want, you need to really just be buying what you need. It's kinda like if you live an unbalanced life over here, you've spent money that you don't have, then to overcome this, over on this side, you're gonna have to do without some things for a while, in order to get your life back in balance. Things are not nearly as important as we think they are.
Dave Ramsey presents a brilliant plan to getting out of debt, and I hope I say it right, but just remember that name, Dave Ramsey, he's probably the premier teacher on finances today, lots and lots of wisdom, he's got a TV show, I think a radio show, and plenty of books. And he says that what you do is, you, if you're in debt, you pay off the smallest debt first because then, you feel good that you paid off a debt. But then, let's just say the payment on that debt was $50 a month, but then you don't say, "Oh boy, I've got $50 a month more now to spend".
What you do is, you take that $50 and you add it to the payment on the next smallest debt, so say, you have another debt, that the payments $45, well now, instead of paying $45, you pay $95 a month on that. Then when those two are paid off, you take the money from those two and you add it to the next one. And it may take two years, it may take 5 years, but let me ask you something, is doing that for 2, 3, 4, 5, years better than being in bondage all of your life and continuing to keep the same ridiculous cycle going, all the time?
Everybody say, "I can live debt-free". Now, let's just throw the word suffer out for a minute. Not a word we like, but if you're going to get out of debt and be debt-free, you will have to let your flesh suffer, because it wants what it wants, and it pouts and feels sorry for itself when it doesn't get it, but we are to walk according to the spirit, not according to the flesh. To get out of debt, you're gonna have to be patient, persistent and learn the difference between what you need and what you want. Before buying anything, ask yourself if you can afford it, without going in debt to get it, and if what you're going to spend on it, is truly worth it to you.
I heard my daughter say something that she liked something that I have, and so, I thought about it, and I told her, "I'd like to buy you one". And she said, "Oh man, that'd be great"! And she called me the next day, and she said, "You know what? I've decided not to let you buy me that". And I said, "Well why not"? I mean, who wouldn't want a free gift? And she said, "You know what? I thought it over", and she said, "Yeah, I would like it but," she said, "It's not worth it to me, the amount of money that it costs," and she said, "I want to use your money, the same way I would use mine".
Now, that's a smart kid. And so, I wanna say something and I want you to remember this, you can't just expect money, you have to respect money. And I think that's worth writing down and keeping. You can't just expect money, you have to respect money, and respecting money means that you don't just use it frivolously. You know, if you're gonna spend $20, I don't think you have to have a prayer meeting about it, and wait four days, I mean unless you don't have the $20, then you do.
But if you're gonna buy anything, that's any sizable amount of money, I strongly suggest that you sleep on it for a night, because when you're looking at something in the shiny case, or the showroom floor, can I tell you something ladies, it won't look as good on you, as it did on the model, and it doesn't shine as much when you get home, as it did in the Jewelry store. I bought a piece of Jewelry one time at a Jewelry store, and I just thought it was beautiful, when I got it home, I thought, "This is not as pretty as I thought it was". And I couldn't figure that out, and then somebody said, "Well don't you realize, that they've got those lights set just right, behind glass, makes it look a lot different there, than it's gonna look when you get it home".
And so, I took it back, got my money back. You know, that new car on the showroom floor, and don't think they don't place the lights just right too. Oh my gosh, it looks so good, and it's clean, there's not a tiny little bit of dirt on it, and you think you just have to have it, but what's it going to look like in a year, when you have it full of fast food wrappers and haven't washed it in a long time, and now you're stuck with what... Now if you buy a car, 7 years of payments, sometime? If you're going to buy something on credit you need to ask yourself, do I want to be paying for this for 7 years, or would I rather wait?
Money has a great temptation attached to it. And greed I think, can get all of us, unless we fight it, and the only way that I know how to fight greed is, with generosity. I think if you're a generous person, then greed cannot get you. So, don't just expect money, but respect money. Luke 14:28-29, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? But if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you".
I remember a subdivision that we drove by occasionally when we were in this certain area on our way back and forth to the airport and oh, it had a great entrance, and there was partial of two houses built in there, and it just... Nothing. It never, "What happened?" we'd say. Well, obviously, they committed to something that they didn't have enough money to finish. And so, it looked ridiculous with this beautiful front and two half-built houses. And to be honest, when we spend all this money on credit, and then maybe end up having to file bankruptcy, you know, I know some people have to do that, I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad, but that's something that we should not let ourselves get in that kind of a mess to have to do, because we always should be responsible to pay our bills.
If you're gonna make a debt, pay it, and pay it on time. Before you borrow money for any item that's expensive, think about it. I tell this story sometimes, I'd saved up, I think it was $300, I don't remember, if you hear me tell it on another teaching, it'll probably be $200. But today it feels like $300. We were at the mall shopping, and I needed a new watch, and so we went by this Jewelry store, and oh, they had this watch, it had rhinestones on it, and I like things that sparkle. And you know, a good salesperson, they know what they're doing. And this was like, "Oh, this looks great on you, and now, you know, this sale is only for today, and if you don't get it today, then it's you know...Blah, blah, blah".
But I'd learned a little bit by then, 'cause it was going to take all my money, and so I said, "Well, you know what? Let me just, I just wanna take a little bit of time, and I'll come back if I want it". Well, so, I'm walking down the mall, and in the meantime, I look in a store and I see a suit that I really liked. Well, I went in and tried that thing on and it looked gorgeous on me, made me look like I had a tiny waist, it was the right color, but that also, would have taken all my money.
So, I decide I'll take another walk. And the thing that I realized when I asked myself, "Joyce, what do you really want"? The thing that I wanted was to keep my money. So, I had $20 for a pair of earrings, or enough money to take a friend out for coffee, I didn't want to have no money, even as much as I wanted those two things. And so, I left with neither one of them. And you know what? I survived. I stayed happy. So, we really need to start thinking about what we're doing, and not just doing it. Nothing looks as good when you bring it home, as it did in the store.
Now, my husband has a very simple equation that he has lived by. And what Dave says is, out of everything you have, give some, spend some, save some. Give some, set your giving aside first, that's not a want, that's a need. We need to give, because if we don't give, no matter what we have, it's not gonna be blessed. And so, you always set aside your giving. Do a little something for yourself with the money that you work for, it gets kind of boring if you work all the time, and you never do anything for yourself. Although, maybe, some people deserve to be bored for a little while, because they've lived riotously. And then, save some.
What if each one of you from the time you went to work, when maybe you were 16, or 17, or 18, would have been saving 10% of everything that you made ever since then, just think what you would have now. And you know what, if you start doing that, you don't miss it. You really don't miss it. And so, it's very wise to manage money, and not let money manage you. Say it again, "I can live debt-free".
All right, well, today, we're offering you a little free gift. It's called, "Financial Management God's Way", and it has lots of scriptures in it, and some encouraging things, and we're gonna give it to you. We're gonna sow this into your life, because we want you to start managing your money, and stop letting it control your life. You can download this, or you can call and ask us for it, or write and ask for it. Thank you so much for being with us today. We appreciate you listening, and I hope you put some of these principles to work in your life.