Deuteronomy 24:5-7 (Part 3) – Selling Our Souls for New, Bright, and Shiny

Posted: April 2, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 24:5-7 (Part 3 of 4)

Miscellaneous Regulations

Sometimes, we want something so bad that we will do anything to get it. We used to do that as kids. We would trade away something that belonged to us to another kid who had something that we wanted more than anything. Then, we got what we wanted. Then, we longed for the things that we gave up. We realized that what we got for our trade deprived us of the things that we valued and gave us no greater happiness.

 

We are sometimes like that as adults. Are we not? I know for a fact from my own life. Now, due to being smarter with my money and less enamored with appearances, my financial situation is the best that it has ever been. However, it has not always been so. There was a time in my life when I wanted all that was new and flashy.

 

Fancy vacation homes on the beach would be the way that I used my tax refunds instead of paying off debt is an example. Now, for example, this year, I had to replace by old truck, finally, because it gave up its life when the engine finally blew. I had been without a car payment for five years but had to go in debt to replace it with a newer car, an SUV, back in November. In February when I got my tax refunds from the Fed and the state, instead of blowing it like I would have a decade or more ago, I paid off almost all of the debt on my Toyota 4-Runner. I still owe about 4 grand on it out the original 12 grand. The old me would have thought, why pay it off when you can’t pay it off in full.  That would have been my logic as to why I could go blow 8 grand something new and flashy.

 

In an earlier time in my life, after the bad credit disaster that was my second marriage, child support from my first marriage, and a second divorce, my credit rating was ugly. But I still wanted to keep up appearances. I was a single again. I wanted to look the part. Dodge made a vehicle, at that time, that would make me look the part. I wanted that vehicle and I let a high-pressure salesman at local car dealership in Greenville, SC play on those desires. My credit rating was so poor that no major bank would touch me. Only Chrysler Financial would at a high rate of interest. You know you want it. But man that payment’s too high. I love that car but I can’t afford a $646 a month car payment. You know you want it. No, I can’t afford it. You know you want it. We’ve been here for hours trying to figure out a way to get you in that car. You know you want it. Finally, against all common sense, I agreed. Over the next three years with all the obligations that I had (on a much lower salary that I have now), that SRT4 was pretty but it was such a great burden on me. That was no way to save with that burden. Ironically, a decade or more later after wise financial decisions and saving and being smart with money, when we downsized our house and our mortgage this past year, my current house payment is less than what my car payment was for that SRT4 back in the day. Talk about trading your soul for a bright, shiny toy. That SRT4 was fun to drive. It would go 120 mph and still have pedal left. It was small but fast. Turbo-charged and pretty. That thing would fly and looked good doing it. However, that car almost broke me with the payment each month. Not to mention the higher car insurance because of the risk of high speed and small car made insurance companies nervous for some reason. Not to mention that insurance rates are based not only on driving experience, the type of car you are insuring but also on your credit rating too. I wanted new, shiny, and flashy and was willing to do anything for it. Then, after getting what I wanted, I found that it was more than I bargained for.

It was like that old show, Fantasy Island. If you remember that show from the late-70’s-early 80’s, people would come to the Island to experience their dreams, the things that they could never do in real life back home. The show was kind of a morality play on the premise of “be careful what you wish for.” At the beginning of each show, the person would really be enjoying their fantasy (sometimes it would be a homely girl getting to experience the life of a jet set model, sometimes it would be a guy imagining himself an athletic superstar when in real life he was a nobody in a cubicle farm living a life in anonymity). Somewhere around the midpoint of each installment of the show things would turn sour with the fantasy because there would have to be some choice made between good and evil. The person would have to choose between selling their soul for their fantasy or doing the right thing. Ultimately, by the end of the show, the person would realize that our fantasies are not all they are cracked up to be and that we should appreciate the life that we live now. That was my SRT4. It was my Fantasy Island. It was living the dream, but the reality is that I could not afford the dream and it became an albatross around my neck to the point that I had to let the car go back to the bank – which further exacerbated my poor credit rating.

 

It was only through the wise counsel of the woman who became my third and final wife, Elena, that I needed to quit chasing the American dream and chasing financial windmills and work on my credit. Through paying of old debts, making settlements on repossession, and using refunds and bonuses to fix my credit that I now stand before you as a man with an excellent credit rating. It was a long hard road I will tell you. But, now, with the help of my wife, we live simply and would rather own nice and functional rather than sell our souls for bright and shiny. We would rather have no debt and no worries than the newest, brightest, shiniest.

 

God does not want us to be slaves to our debts caused by unwise desires. With that in mind, let’s read the passage, Deuteronomy 24:5-7, and for this morning let’s concentrate on Verse 6:

 

5 If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

 

6 Do not take a pair of millstones—not even the upper one—as security for a debt, because that would be taking a person’s livelihood as security.

 

7 If someone is caught kidnapping a fellow Israelite and treating or selling them as a slave, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

God provides a law here that is meant to protect us from ourselves. God knows that we like bright and shiny. Sometimes to the point that we are willing to sell our financial future to get what we want. How many times do we increase our spending when we get a raise instead of saving? How many times do we go next level on the purchase of a new home instead of downsizing to what we can afford? How many times do we buy more than we need in a car? How many times are we slaves to our debt? How many times are we in a situation where we have more month than we have money?

 

Financial pressure robs us of our joy. Financial obligations beyond what we can do causes despair. God does not want that for us. He wants us to live with margin in our lives. He wants us to learn to live on less than we make. He wants us to know begin making idols of our debt – anything that gets in the way of our relationship with Him. Don’t get me wrong. God is not against us being wealthy. He just does not want us to become beholden to and make gods out of our money or lack of it. He wants us to use our wealth to impact the world for Jesus Christ. He wants us to have margin in our finances such that we can be generous people. He wants us not to make to make a choice between our car payment and helping our fellow man. He wants us to be able to be generous for eternal things not earthly things. Does moving into a bigger house that you can barely afford make a statement in eternity? Or does it rob you of your joy and your ability to assist God in the work of the Kingdom.

 

God wants to protect us from ourselves and foolish worldly desires. He does not want us to sell our soul to the bank. He wants us to be people with wisdom. He wants us to realize that we cannot take our toys with us so why let our toys rule us. Live simply. Be generous. Have margin so that you can breathe! Live so that you can help your neighbor! Live so that you can help expand God’s kingdom! Live with financial margin in your life! No greater joy is there when you are not constantly worrying about how to pay your bills! Enjoy life, not things! Enjoy having the freedom to be generous without thinking about! God wants that freedom for you! Let’s start today to live that way!

 

Amen and Amen.

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