I’m convinced that when dealing with simple but priceless commodities like kindness, justice, and righteousness, we should spend more than we earn. Because of the debt-oriented structure of our present economy, people and organizations are allowed to do things they could not otherwise do. In our culture, many things are too expensive for people to buy with the cash they have on hand. Debt enables them to make purchases they couldn’t otherwise afford by allowing them to pay off debt with small monthly installments that include the price of the item as well as interest.
Companies as well as individuals can utilize debt to leverage the return on the equity of their assets. That portion of debt to equity is used to determine the riskiness of the investment. In other words, the more debt per equity, the riskier the investment. At that point, debt becomes dangerous for both individual and corporate borrowers.
Although debt can appear helpful, it can also become a burden and a hazard to your personal well-being. The real trouble comes when the cost of servicing the debt grows beyond the ability to repay what is due. Usually that inability happens because of insufficient income or poor management of resources, coupled with increased interest rates, late fees, and penalties.
Historically, excess debt accumulation has been blamed for many of the world woes, as well as the tragic breakup of many long-standing relationships. I grew up following the Great Depression and the stress of World War II. The accepted advice of that era was, “Who goeth aborrowing goeth asorrowing.” Or as Ezra Pound said, “Wars in old times were made to get slaves. The modern implement of imposing slavery is debt.”
Benjamin Franklin gave this advice on debt: “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.” And Samuel Johnson expressed his concerns about debt in these words: “Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity.”
Following the Depression, most people saved up enough money under their mattresses to pay cash for their automobiles and other major purchases. They believed that home life would cease to be peaceful and beautiful once they needed to depend on borrowing and debt. As kids, we were instructed to run from debt as if it were the plague or an addiction. Today we’ve grown quite accustomed to words like bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale, bubble, meltdown, and universal default, as well as expressions like “too big to fail” and “spending more than you earn.”
Living with debt seems to be the attitude and structure of our economy today. I have, however, discovered a wonderful alternative economy when it comes to earning and spending, as well as spending more than you earn. I’ve become convinced that when it comes to commodities such as kindness, justice, and righteousness, you should spend exponentially more than you earn. With those commodities, it should be the rule of thumb that lavish and exorbitant behavior is the investment rule of the day. You can throw all restraint overboard and be totally thriftless. You can never bankrupt your assets of kindness, justice, and righteousness no matter how much you withdraw from the account. Consider the immeasurable dividends you can gain when you lavishly invest these assets:
Kindness—People universally long for others to show kindness to them. After all the traveling I’ve done around the world, I’ve concluded that people will be exactly as happy and kind toward you as you are toward them. That was true in North Korea, Pakistan, Congo, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Showing benevolence, courtesy, tact, gentleness, patience, and unselfish consideration sends a signal of kindness that pays great dividends.
Justice—Everybody carries around a psycho-spiritual scorecard labeled justice. It’s a high-tech device that’s placed somewhere up front on the inside of one’s forehead. Justice has an extension cord that runs down to the heart, and it’s emotionally activated when issues of fairness, due process, equity, integrity, fair treatment, reasonableness, and reparation come into play. You can never go wrong dispensing way more truth and justice than you ever dreamed possible. Spending more justice than you could ever earn will always prove to be a blue-chip stock investment.
Righteousness—More than likely, you find your greatest fulfillment in living from freely pouring goodness, virtue, fairness, respectability, honor, and dignity into the lives of others around you. Righteousness is a powerful phenomenon that keeps you alive in the hearts of others long after the action onstage is over and the audience has gone home. That’s because the source of righteousness is from a different economy.
In the debt-oriented structure of our present economy, people and organizations are allowed to do things they could not otherwise do. But there is usually a tragic downside that accompanies the use of debt. In this alternative economy I’ve discovered, people are allowed to do things they could not otherwise do because they transfer into their lives such qualities as kindness, justice, and righteousness. In our culture, we have to utilize debt because of the reality of limited resources. But there’s no limit to the supply of kindness, justice, and righteousness, because they flow freely from God’s economy, and you simply can’t outgive God!
Here’s my simple challenge: Try it. Freely invest in the lives of those around you the simple riches of kindness, justice, and righteousness. Spend out of your limitless supply. Plant the fertile seeds and watch the astounding harvest as the people around you do things they otherwise could not have done