As an American it is tempting to pull out your credit card and buy anything that catches your eye as you walk through the mall. If we can’t afford it, it seems logical to charge it now. “I could never save enough to get this without using credit!” we reason.
The truth is that if we could never save enough for the purchase, we certainly can’t afford to pay the extra for it that using credit obligates us to pay. If we buy a new television for $800 using credit, it will take us over 4 ½ years (56 months) to pay for it if we only make minimum payments of $24. Counting interest at 24%, we will eventually pay $1332 for that $800 TV. If instead we waited and saved that $24 each month, we could have bought that $800 TV after 9 months and could have used the extra $532 to buy something else.
Irresponsible credit use is one of the main reasons poor people stay poor in America. In 1970, Walter Mischel, a psychology professor at Stanford University conducted experiments with 4-year-olds. The children were given a marshmallow, which they could eat immediately. However, if they were able to wait a short while before eating it, they would get two marshmallows. Some of the children weren’t willing to wait and ate their marshmallow quickly. Others patiently waited, anticipating the satisfaction of getting two marshmallows. Following up fourteen years later, the researchers found that the youngsters who waited as toddlers were more competent, scored higher on their SATs, and were more socially adept as adults than their impatient fellow subjects.
What the researchers called delayed gratification, the bible calls “longsuffering,” “waiting” or “patience.” God’s people are told, “Those who wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength” (Isa. 40: 31) and “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit,” (Eccl. 7: 8). And patience is one of the qualities identified as a fruit that is born from the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering …” (Gal. 5:22). Not only does patiently saving show our heart and builds our character, it is evidence that the Spirit has control of us.
Debt, on the other hand, enslaves us and obligates us pay back what we have pledged. “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7 NKJV. Pay back what you owe quickly. By becoming debt-free and building our savings, we open ourselves to experiencing the blessings God gives to his people when they are content to wait for him.