Along the way to getting out of debt, there are six spiritual keys I’ve learned that are crucial to true long-term success in managing the resources God has given you. These may not sound practical at first, but if you want lasting change in your life, you must work on changing your internal character as much or more than your external actions. The material changes you must make to get out of debt are often temporary, but these spiritual keys are progressive changes you’ll make in your heart and mind over the course of your life.
Before we dive in, let’s take a moment and define prosperity. Prosperity is not about attaining wealth or living a life of luxury, but about thriving as the person God created you to be. Sure, God may bless you with wealth as you allow him to change you, but there’s no guarantee. There’s no prosperity gospel here. This is the Law of Reaping and Sowing. True prosperity is about living a life fully engaged with the principles laid out in the Bible.
6 Spiritual Keys to Biblical Prosperity
- Diligence: Diligent people understand the Law of Reaping and Sowing. They understand prosperity comes from hard work over a long period of time. They understand prosperity doesn’t come to those who give up when the going gets tough, but to those who persevere and succeed through an unwavering application of grit. The diligent know that the lottery doesn’t qualify as a viable retirement plan. Instead, they work hard at the act of planting, knowing God expects them to do their part. It’s up to God to bring the rain and multiply what’s been planted, but they had to plant something in the first place!
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
~Proverbs 13:4 (ESV)
- Discipline: Modern culture has turned discipline into a dirty word, too often equating it with punishment (usually of children). The truth is that discipline is in actuality the implementation of a regimen designed to train someone in a craft or trade, or to systematically change an individual’s behavior over time. Discipline is hard and unpleasant, but it brings vast rewards to those who will commit to walk its path. Just as children need discipline in order to grow up to live a well-ordered life, so too do we need to implement discipline in our own lives to maintain and build upon that order.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
~Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
- Wisdom: If you know me or read this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that Dave Ramsey is one of my heroes. So, it’s no surprise that I think you should listen to Dave’s counsel about getting out of debt and managing your finances. He’s been at it for 25 years now, and millions of families (including mine!) have successfully gotten out of debt through Financial Peace University, reading his books, and listening to his radio program. If you don’t want to listen to Dave, then go read a Larry Burkett book or something from Crown Financial Ministries. Listen to someone who knows how to win with money and does it in a Biblically sound way. Your way hasn’t been working, so it’s time to listen to someone else.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
~Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV)
- Contentment: Whatever your income, learn to live on less than you make so that you have enough breathing room to save, invest, and give. Contentment is a strange thing, and completely foreign as a natural element of most people’s character makeup. Something happens as you learn to be content with what you have. When you get more, you don’t feel rich, you feel blessed. When you lose some of what you have, you realize it’s just stuff anyway, so no big deal. Does contentment mean you lose all desire for worldly possessions? Not necessarily. It just means you’re putting material wealth in its proper perspective as a tool for you to learn to use properly and wisely.
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
~1 Timothy 6:6-9 (ESV)
- Generosity: At the Smart Conference last weekend Dave Ramsey said, “Generosity is the antidote for discontentment, entitlement, and selfishness.” As above, when you’re living on less than you make, then you’re free to give away the overflow. Chris LoCurto says, “Debt robs you of options.” He’s right. Not only is debt a heavy chain around your neck that keeps you from living your dreams, it also keeps you from giving to someone in need when the opportunity arrives. When you finally learn to live with an open hand instead of a closed fist you’ll find that your contentment grows in proportion to your generosity.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of jthat which is truly life.
~1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
- Faithfulness: Akin to diligence, faithfulness is a character trait at a higher level. You might say that faithfulness is diligence with an unwavering commitment to holiness. In other words, it means doing the right thing over a long period of time. Read the story of the master who left the talents of money behind with three of his servants in Matthew 25. One dude just buried the money in the ground out of fear, but the other two took risks and invested the money, returning their master’s money with interest. What was his response? “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.“ ~Matthew 25:21. I wonder if God just rolls his eyes when people who are buried in debt due to foolish choices ask Him for more money. Why would he bless them with more and more when they haven’t been a faithful manager of what he’s already given them?
Now, the crucial thing to remember here is that though these are spiritual keys they are practical as well. Too often people hear Biblical buzzwords like wisdom and faithfulness and turn them into hyper-spiritualized concepts where they think they just need to pray and ask God to give them more of it. By all means pray, but realize that these spiritual keys only produce change in your life when they are set into motion.
But I hear you say, “Jeff, some of these spiritual keys aren’t present in my life right now, or if they are they’re pretty weak. What should I do?” My advice is three-fold. First, take the first steps toward getting your financial house in order. You’ll be amazed at how your own character begins to change when you take action and move in the right direction. Second, pray and confess your weaknesses to God—he’s knows already anyway. Ask him for his wisdom and the strength to carry on. Third, find someone who will hold your feet to the fire. Give someone permission to be all up in your business and call you out when you get off track.
Finally, don’t resist these changes in your life when you start to feel them happening. Your marriage will change. Your relationships with other people will change. Your relationship to money and stuff will change. When couples get serious about getting out of debt, roll up their sleeves, and work shoulder to shoulder to clean up their mess, it’s often as good or better than attending marriage counseling. Suddenly, they’re on the same page and moving in the same direction—something that does wonders for their relationship.