Tony Evans - Reversing Financial Consequences
My challenge today is to tell all who will listen to what God has to say how to get out of debt. Is there anybody here need to get out of debt? God has, like in every other area, an answer to your financial dilemma. The problem is that God can't get people, including his people, to pay attention. And as a result, the addiction to debt has become the newest form of slavery. It has been stated there are three types of people: the haves, the have-nots, and the have not paid for what they have. They have inherited a lifestyle of debt. Their song when they get up in the morning is, "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go". Debt has become the newest form of slavery.
Proverbs 22:7 says: "The borrower is a slave to the lender". And many people know what it is to be enslaved to bills, to be owned by them. In our story, in verse 1 of 2 Kings, we have a single parent who can't pay her bills. Her husband has died, the provider for the home is not there, she cannot make ends meet and finds herself subjected to the creditors. Being subjected to the creditors has placed her whole family in disarray, for she says, "They've come to take my two sons," that is to work off the debt. Illegitimate debt should be abnormal, therefore if you are living in debt, if you have more month than money, on an ongoing basis, that is your lifestyle, it is because you are living outside of the will of God. If you are regularly, as a lifestyle, past due, for illegitimate debt, then something needs to be corrected, and I'm going to tell you God's way to fix it.
Now, this lady goes to the prophet. Why didn't she go to the bank, or the credit union? Or Payday Loan? Because she, at some point, made the connection between her bills and her Bible, between God and gold. Luke 16, verses 10 and 11 says that if God can't talk to you in this area, he will not talk to you in other areas. He says, "If I can't trust you here, then I can't trust you elsewhere," because this is an indicator light of whether you take God seriously. Illegitimate debt exists for a number of reasons.
Number one, there is ignorance of God's method of handling your resources. People just don't know. If they knew, they would do it but they've never been told about it for one reason or another. I was told about it in my mid 20s, and it was in my mid 20s, making $350 a month, that I learned these biblical principles and began the process of applying what I'm getting ready to share with you. And it was totally a life-transforming reality and has been so ever since. So some people just don't know it. Some people know it and don't like it. They know it but they not going for it. Like a lot of things in Scripture, they reject it, and so they have to bear the consequences of their rejection. So they have the information but not the obedience.
One of the main reasons that this problem does not go away is greed. Wanting to live a lifestyle of indulgence. And then there is another reason and that is poor planning. And I will show you what the Scripture says about that. So now I am going to walk you through three words, and if I can get you to believe God's Word because I'm going to give you the three words from the Bible. If I can get you to buy in to these three words, apart from trials that God may send your way or allow you to experience, you will begin to see a reversal of financial consequences. Word number one. I'll give you the three words in order and then deal with each one. Give, save, spend. Those are the three simple words: give, save, spend. Honor God, honor yourself, and then spend what you have.
Let me try to explain word number one that you don't want to hear. But the only reason you don't want to hear it is you don't understand it. See, that's the only reason you were, 'cause if you understood it, and I'm going to try to explain it to you, it will change how you feel about it. If you're going to reverse the consequences of debt, then you must establish God as your source. And the way you do it is not by just saying you do it. The way you do it is by honoring me with the first fruits which was the tithe, the first fruits of what I give you, I want you to give it back to me as proof that you are seriously believing that I am your source.
In the most hated Scripture in this realm, Malachi 3, he says, "Shall a man rob God"? He says, "You are praying to me, but I am not answering, because who would bless a thief"? Nobody blesses a thief. He says, "Yet you have robbed me with your tithes and your offerings and therefore you have to contend," watch this, "with the devourer," he calls it. Psalm chapter 50, verses 14, 15, and 23, he says, "Pay your vow to the Lord then call upon my name". See, we got folk calling on God while they rob him. And God says, "You can't pray to me to give you a better job, give you a raise, help you with your finances, while you steal from me, 'cause the first tenth of what I give you is not your money". That's not yours. That is holy unto the Lord.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, "Give to the Lord the first fruits and then your barns will be filled". See, what you have to understand is who you dealing with. Once God becomes your source, you're no longer owned by your resource. See that? That resource doesn't own you anymore, 'cause God can use any source he wants, any resource he wants, once he's your source. It changes everything. Okay, so moving along. You establish God's ownership first. Secondly, you save before you spend. You do not save if you have it left over. Just like you do not give if you have it left over. You honor God, then you honor yourself. The Bible says: "It is a wicked man who does not leave an inheritance for his children's children". You supposed to be helping to take care of your grandkids.
We're not leaving our kids an inheritance. We're leaving them debt. In Proverbs 21:20 and chapter 30, verse 25: "Save before you spend". Now, to save means there must be a shift. It means you must become future-oriented. After you've established God is your source, after you've become future-oriented, because what stops being future-oriented is spending it all now. Then you spend. You spend. But you spend according to Scripture, with a plan. Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 21:5. "God honors the plans," it says, "of the diligent". So here it is. Let me give you the order for spending, the biblical order. I'm not making stuff up. The biblical order for you to spend. Number one, you start with needs. The Bible says to be content with your needs being met, the essentials of life: food, clothes, and shelter. Those are the essentials of life.
Philippians 4:19 is a great promise in Scripture, and it promises to those who have their things in order, he says, "My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus". He is a need-meeting God. He loves to meet needs. Okay, let's get this straight. He does not guarantee all wants. Nor does he guarantee all desires. Wants and desires aren't wrong; but what he promises is to meet needs. The only time God does not meet needs is when he's taking us through some kind of trial in order to develop us. But David said, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their seed begging bread".
God is a need-meeting God. However, however, you gotta know something. God is a need-meeting God as long as you're content with needs being met. If you are content with needs being met, he won't leave you hanging. If you are discontent, 'cause I just have my needs but not my wants and not my desires, then you may not experience him never leaving you nor forsaking you in this arena. Now in terms of his relationship with you, he'll never leave you nor forsake you but that's not what he's talking about. He's talking about in meeting your need. The Bible says when God gives you something and it's from him, he gives no sorrow with it. So you and I must start with needs being met with the spirit of contentment.
Paul says in Philippians 4: "I have learned to be content," 'cause you gotta learn it. It ain't natural. He said, "I've learned to be content". And then he goes on to say, "I have learned to be abased and abound". Abased means having little, and abound means having an abundance. I can go either way, 'cause whatever situation I'm in, I'm going to be thankful. I'm going to be grateful. And I'm going to be content. And I can go either way because I am not defining myself by my wants. I'm thankful for my needs. Then comes desires. Desires are things outside of any of those areas that you do with surplus. God is not against desires. He even says, "I will give you the desires of your heart". God has no problem with prospering. He has a big problem with prosperity theology. It may mean selling your desire so that you can adjust your wants to make sure you've met your needs.
Selling your desires, if it's necessary, in order to adjust your wants to meet your needs and start again the right way so that now God can intervene economically. Deuteronomy 8:18 says: "It is God who gives you the power to make wealth". He's not against it as long as it's in the right order. Okay, so let's close, but let's go back to our lady in 2 Kings 4. The creditors were knocking at the lady's door. She is desperate. But recognizing that this is a spiritual issue and not just a financial issue, she goes to the prophet Elisha and says, "What do I do? I'm desperate". Elisha ask her two questions in verse 2. He says, "What shall I do for you"? In other words, what do you need? And "Tell me what is in your house"?
What do you have? Elisha, if you really want to know the truth, all I got is some oil. Just some oil in my pantry. That's it. Elisha says, "Here's what I want you to do. Go to your neighbors and borrow from them all their empty pots and don't borrow a few. Get as much", watch this, "of your neighbors' emptiness," empty pots. "Get all the emptiness and bring it to your house. Just tell 'em you want to borrow their pot for a little bit. When you borrow their pot," he goes on to say, "then go into a room and shut the door. You and your sons, you go into a room in your place of abode and you shut the door". Why? Because what God's going to do, he's going to do in secret. This is not for public consumption, okay? "Then I want you to pour the oil into the empty pots. Pour the oil into the empty pots that you borrowed from your neighbors".
So she went, she got 'em. She starts pouring oil into the empty pot and this pot gets full, and she pours on this pot, this pot, this pot, this pot. This oil keeps coming. This oil keeps coming. She tells her son, "Go get me another pot". He said, "Mama, that's all the pots we have". Once that happened, bam, the oil stopped. Oil stopped. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Why you want to go to the preacher about a business opportunity? I mean, he's into preaching. He's a prophet. No, he's more than a prophet. What he is, is giving you a spiritual perspective. You see, the woman didn't really know what she had. She had oil, but she had not given oil a spiritual understanding. All she thought was she has a little jar of oil in her closet, but God had not been attached to the oil, so she had no idea of what God could do with a little when it got attached to God to turn it into something totally different.
Guess what I'm trying to tell you? The solution to your debt, you may already have, be looking at it and not even know it's there, 'cause God never got hooked up with it. But when God got hooked up to the oil, she is filling the vessels. He says, "Now, go back and sell to your neighbor oil". They can be oil for cooking, oil for lighting their lamps. So you got to borrow their pots, sell them the oil, and then he says a... this is a bomb. He says, "And then you and your sons can live on the rest". Retire. When you get in line with God, and God begins to move, he can do exceedingly, abundantly above all you can ask or think.
Luke 6:38 says give, and it (the thing you give) will be added back to you. It will be pressed down, running over, 'cause other people will circle. If God was talking in today's language, he would say if you do this thing right, what goes around, comes around. 'Cause whatever you need, he says, give it to somebody else. Find a neighbor you can deliver it to, even if it's just a dollar to somebody who needs a cup of coffee, or helping somebody, you do that, 'cause when you send it out, God works that thing back around so that it boomerangs back to you. So that it comes back your way. And if you don't believe me, ask the widow of Zarephath. She had one meal left. God said, "Give it to the prophet". She gave it to the prophet, then it says, "And she and her son ate for many days".
If you don't believe me, ask Samuel's mother, Hannah, 'cause she said, "I can't get pregnant, I can't have a child, but God, if you give me a child, I'll give you the child that you give me". God said, "When I heard you going to give me what I give you," he gave her a child and then gave her a bunch of other kids on top of that. If you don't believe that, ask the little boy with two fish and five barley loaves. All he had is lunch, but when he gave it to God, God multiplied it and fed 5,000 men, not counting women and children. What I'm trying to tell you is we dealing with a debt-canceling God, if we get back in line with him.
A lot of people are tired of being in debt, of owing everybody else, and not being free to utilize the resources they've been entrusted with for the right reasons for which they've been given. One of the great deceptions today is to live our lives owing everybody else, jeopardizing living out our lives economically and financially the way God has prescribed them to be lived. God wants us to owe one person: him. Any other ultimate obligation becomes idolatry. And to want or utilize funds irreverently, irresponsibly, or unbiblically, means that we've made money an idol. An idol is a false god, and any false god is in competition with the true God.
God wants to release us from illegitimate debt, bills we cannot pay because we have overspent, we've not planned, we have indulged ourselves illegitimately. God wants us to be released from that. And he has a prescription for us. The consequences of having year after year and decade after decade of debt is an insult to the creator who gives us all things to enjoy. So, what? "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you". It's a priority issue. If you will prioritize God and his relationship to your resources, he will prioritize you in giving you the ideas, the plans, and the opportunity to get out of the incarceration of debt that you may find yourself in today. He is a debt-releasing God but only on his terms. So if you're tired of the consequences of indebtedness, give God a chance. Guess what? He knows how to pay bills.