Breaking Out of Debtor's Prison

Posted by Perry

In the American religion of materialism, there are two words more sacred than any other: "Charge It!" Consider this scenario before you do.

1. 30 year old lady has a $3,500 balance on her credit card at 18% interest. She makes the minimum payment each month. How old will she be when she has her credit card paid off? [70 years old]

2Ki 4:1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves."
2Ki 4:2 And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?" And she said, "Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil."
2Ki 4:3 Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.
2Ki 4:4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside."
2Ki 4:5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.
2Ki 4:6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing.
2Ki 4:7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest."

This lady has a serious debt crisis. Let's learn from her situation and see what God's answer to her need was. That will provide us with the "principles" which will help us break out of the financial prison you may find yourself in.


* What is your situation? Debt gets worse and worse. Just when you think you can catch your breath another bill or "emergency" will come and knock the air right out of you.

Sit down and total up your monthly expenses [list them]. Then total up your monthly income, or get a good estimate. Compare the two with one another. If your expenses are higher than your income you are in the process of going into debt. Either increase the income or decrease the expense. Everyone in the family needs to be in on this process so as not to undermine each other.

* What brought you to the situation you are in? We're not told in our scripture reading how the lady got into such a desperate situation, but there was a valid reason. What's yours? If you don't discover the answer to this question you'll simply be treating a symptom and not the underlying cause. Sometimes it's a failure to recognize the difference between "needs" and "wants" or mayby a failure to put aside some money in the good times to be prepared for the unforseen bad times that are ahead.

*What will you lose if your debt situation doesn't change? The lady of our text was going to lose her children. There are a lot of things you can lose: peace of mind, marriage, and the list goes on. We have a spiritual debt you know. We are spiritual debtors to the almighty God. If we don't deal with our spiritual debt by initiating a relationship with Jesus Christ and allow Him to pay our spiritual debt, we will lose our eternal soul.

*What is your attitude toward the situation you are in? The mother knowing she was going to lose her boys was desperate for a solution. She could have been angry or unconcerned. She could have blamed someone else for the problem. She could have become paralyzed with fear and retreated into her shell. The proper reaction is what our Mom did, she sought wisdom from someone else.


The woman went to the right source of wisdom for her particular problem. She didn't go to the creditor and beg for mercy, she went to God's spokesman, Elisha. She gave him all the information he needed to accurately understand the situation. She didn't let her pride stand in the way and withold valuable information that could sink the entire process. Some wisdom you may receive may sound a little like this: don't live above your means/ take your lunch instead of eating out/ you get out of debt a little at the time/ don't borrow more to pay existing debt/ be obedient to wise counsel/ don't wait too late before seeking help/ it's a sign of strength to seek wisdom, not weakness/


The issue is not how small the jug of oil is or how beneath you the job is or how insignificant your skill is, use it. Turn it over to God and then watch Him work. Examine your resources, talent and skills. Can you work on cars, tutor, sew, do crafts, bake cookies? Take advantage of the time that you have to contribute to the indebtedness. It's easy to concentrate on the negative or always be wishing for what someone else has. Find what's positive in your finances or your relationships and build on that. The woman said, "All I've got is just this oil." However small, anything turned over to God, becomes extraordinary. God asked Moses, "What do you have in your hand?" Moses answered, "just a stick". You know how that turned out...


I don't know what this mother was expecting when she came to Elisha, but what she got was a difficult job. She had to go to all her friends and neighbors collecting empty jars and fill them with oil. She gathered and filled and gathered and filled until there was no more energy or room in the house. Now what? On top of all my debt, I'm worn out! She found Elisha and said, "Now what?" You know what he said? More work..."sell the oil." Have you ever tried to sell stuff? You can pay $200 for a new suit, but when you sell it in a garage sale you can hardly get $5 for it. Selling is tough! Some people are looking for an easy way out of debt, publishers clearing house, gambling, bankruptcy, etc.. 2Thes. 3:10 says, If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. Psalm 37:21 says, The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; If you get into debt because of poor decisions, mismanagement of God's resources or selfish desires, don't expect God to drop money from the sky so you can pay off your debt and never learn your lesson. God could have provided for the Mom in our story with a miracle, but she and the boys needed to learn how to make it in a tough world without Dad around. Paying off debts, whether financial or spiritual takes work.

In a spiritual sense, we are all debtors. We are all sinners. Some try to pay off their debt through working hard. But his is one debt that we could never pay off on our own. We keep sinning faster than we can work to take care of it. Our only hope is to allow Jesus to pay our sin debt with His completed work on the cross. He will if you will ask Him. Then let the overflow of the oil of God's joy flood you with life in all its fulness.


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