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Last night my wife and I were reading our devotionals together and the topic was forgiveness. While both of us have a lot to learn in this area, I wanted to take a few minutes and discuss what forgiveness means when it comes to financial infidelity. Financial infidelity seems to growing as my counselors and I are dealing more and more with one spouse hiding money or debt from the other spouse. As I have been studying financial infidelity, it have become clear that it is not a male or female dominate problem, but seems to happen to either sex just as often.
Let me first give you the typically case that I work with. One spouse is the keeper of the household books and the other spouse just is not involved in any financial decisions. One or both of the household income becomes reduced (layoff, pay cut, no bonus, commissions are down) and the other spouse who handles the household finances feels to ashamed to cut life style or feels that they have been left on their own to deal with the problem. When this happens, it usually leads to credit card debt or hiding of money for a “rainy day”. Something comes up (usually an emergency) and when there is no money to pay for something the spouse who has been hiding the debt has to come clean.
I know that once both spouses have found out about the problem, most if the time they are ready to tackle to problem head on but there is always some hurt due to not having a spouse helping together with the money, or one spouse racking up credit card debt and the other spouse not having clue.
Just like with any other issue that you would deal with in marriage communication is the key. Financial infidelity is almost always caused by lack of communication and could have been avoided completely is both spouse were on the same page. Do not be afraid to talk to you spouse about money, if they will not listen than at least you have done all that you can. Remember, in the first 7 years of marriage the number one cause of divorce is money fights and money problems. Do not let financial infidelity take your marriage. As hard is it to admit that both spouses are at fault, forgiveness needs to happen from both spouses. Talk to your spouse today about your finances so that you can take control of your finances and work together as a team!
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Shaun Somers our Canadian counselor recently received an email from a concerned member of a local church about the debt that they were preparing to enter into. See below to Shaun’s response and as it describes both Shaun and my feelings on debt in the Kingdom of God.
“”….some have argued…. lack faith if God wants to give us the best, we should not be afraid to trust God.” Here’s the thing, I 100% agree with the quote above – we need to trust God. But I think trusting God means just that, looking at His word and His principles about how to handle money. To me, trusting God would mean setting a goal of a property worth $2.5M (or whatever) and resolving to get it WITHOUT DEBT. But “we’ll have to wait too long” some people will say. Well, who’s to say how long God will have you wait? And if that is His will, so be it. Perhaps you should have had a target like this 10 years ago, perhaps not. But taking a debt shortcut now is not the answer, in my opinion. Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (NASB) Does your church wish to be slave to the bank? Debt changes relationships, and not for the better from my experience. So again, my suggestion would be to avoid debt altogether. Failing that, taking a very small mortgage would be best. Taking on a huge debt with a congregation as small as yours seems quite “reckless”, as you say. Any suggestion that individual congregants take on debt to then loan to the church would be in my opinion beyond reckless to the point of foolhardiness. I don’t aim to offend here, because I know that those who brought up that idea are trying to help, but I cannot stress strongly enough that that is not a good plan. This matter of moving up in church size is no small thing, and will require much deliberation and prayer on the part of your church leaders and congregation. I encourage you to continue to express your concerns about any plan that requires debt as a part of the solution. “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his
neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 May God richly bless you and your church.”
Debt is all around us. Need a car, get a loan. Need to go to college, get a loan. Need some stuff for Christmas, use a credit card (get a loan). Had an emergency, get a home equity loan. These are the common beliefs that we have about money. We need to be weird and live without borrowing any more money. Get on board and do not be a slave to your lenders. Add up all of you monthly debts payments, how much is it a month? $500, $1,000, $2,000 or more? What could you do with that money? How much could you save, invest or give? Live a different life and be weird, don’t use debt and live a life that is focused on spending less than you make.
All of this means that almost everyone is going to be spending extra in the upcoming month getting ready for Christmas. Travel, meals, parties, and of course gifts are among the expenses that will be higher at this time of year. How will you be paying for these items for your family? Some people will unfortunately be putting much of the cost onto their credit card(s) and hoping that they can make the minimum payments in the New Year. Hopefully you have seen this day coming – it is December 25th every year after all – and have saved over the past year in anticipation.