What Debt Taught Me About the Gospel

November 10, 2020  - By Alyssa Cottrell

Well-Watered Women Blog-What Debt Has Taught Me About the Gospel

Overwhelmed With Debt

It started out slow. A shopping day here, a weekend trip there, and then it got out of hand. No matter what I did or how much money I threw at them, the numbers only got bigger. And scarier. About six months ago, I confessed to my community group that I was in over my head, completely swamped in credit card debt. Since then, they’ve helped me make a stringent budget and a plan to pay it off. While I wish I had made wise financial choices, the Lord has been kind to use this season of paying off debt to teach me specific truths about the Gospel.

Free of Debt

In Christ, my debts have not only been paid for but erased. This is a truth I’ve known theoretically, but now I understand experientially. I would be shocked and, honestly, thrilled if someone were to come along and pay off the entirety of my credit card debt. In fact, I’m planning a party for the day I’ve paid it off! But in reality, I’ve already been forgiven of a much greater, much more deadly debt. One that could never be repaid or appeased. One that affects my eternity. And that should also produce shock and elation in my heart towards my Savior. 

Scripture tells us that through the cross, we are not only forgiven of our trespasses and sins but also that the very record of our debt has been canceled (Colossians 2:13–14). It was nailed to the cross. Never to be seen again. This would be as if the credit card company considered all that I owed, and rather than holding me to that amount (plus interest), tore up the records and erased the fact that I’d ever even been associated with them. 

Sin is Costly

Now, imagine that I’ve just paid off my debt in full. I’m free! I don’t have to be bound to that fear and debt anymore. But a few days go by and I find myself swiping that credit card again. Falling back into the same old patterns. That would be the very definition of insanity, right? How foolish of me to pick up that credit card when I just witnessed the painful process of paying it off. And yet, that is how we often treat our sin.

We’ve been completely forgiven. Christ paid on the cross for everything we’ve ever said, thought, or done in rebellion against him. And yet, like the Israelites in the wilderness, we want to go back to Egypt (Exodus 16:3). Back to the things that enslaved us. Back to the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1). As I work to pay off my financial debt, I see a physical manifestation of my spiritual reality. I have been set free from sin, and yet I often run back to the very thing that enslaved me.

The Gift of Accountability

Because of the Lord’s extravagant love for us, believers don’t face sin alone. God has given us his Spirit to help us (John 14:16–18). In addition, he’s given us his people, the church. What helped me break my destructive pattern of spending was bringing the struggle into the light by confessing to my community group (James 5:16). Sin only grows in isolation and it loves to hide in the dark (John 3:19–20). By bringing my struggles out into the open, the power I had allowed sin to have over me diminished. 

My community group displayed Christ-like love to me, not condemning my choices, but instead helping me to pursue holiness. And now, they are there to help me stay on track. Should I feel myself slipping again, they’re there to hold me up. My experience confessing what I saw as the most foolish and ugliest of sins, has spurred me on to be even more open in confessing in all areas of my life. When we confess sin, it brings freedom.

Of course, I wish I hadn’t fallen into the trap of debt, but the lessons the Lord has taught me through this experience are priceless. As we grow in holiness, the Gospel becomes clearer and sin becomes less desirable. He really can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and he who began a good work in us, canceling our debts, will faithfully bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

Meet the Author

Alyssa is passionate about discipling women to love God with all of their hearts, souls, minds and strength. She currently serves as the women’s ministry fellow in her local church in Dallas, TX. Reading, writing and going to the movies are just a few of her simple joys! 

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Well-Watered Women Blog - What Debt Has Taught Me About the Gospel

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