The proliferation of credit cards in the last quarter of the 20th century has made it relatively easy for consumers to buy things for which they have insufficient funds. The retailer is unconcerned about the consumer’s ability to pay for the item because the credit card company transmits the funds directly to the retailer on behalf of the purchaser. Virtually every retail establishment accepts credit cards these days, even most fast food restaurants. These kinds of transactions are so commonplace today that we are actually surprised, and maybe a little put out, when someone writes a check to cover his purchase.
Statistics gathered by financial institutions who issue credit cards show that when consumers use credit cards they spend much more money than if they use cash. This means that many of us are buying far more than we can actually afford. The result of our infatuation with credit purchases is that millions of us have houses full of clothes, toys and gadgets that are being used up, but have not actually been paid for.
We may say this because most consumers have large balances on their credit cards at all times. Each purchase, no matter how large or small, gets added to the amount owed and the monthly payments never keep pace. Thus, one may be paying for that Big Mac for months or years, even though it was consumed in a matter of moments after charging it to one’s card. The consequence of this way of purchasing is that we never truly own the things that we buy. If this were not the case, there would be no such thing as repossessions.
In terms of spiritual principles, there are two lessons to be drawn from this reality. The first is what Solomon said in Prov. 22:7, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Those who live on credit card purchases are actually slaves to their creditors. All one has to do to test this principle is to stop paying his credit card bill. This is a lesson that should prompt us to pay off all our debts and only purchase things when we hold sufficient funds in hand.
The second lesson has to do with the price that was paid for our sins. In Acts 20:28 Paul told the elders of the Ephesian church that they must shepherd the church of God which our Lord purchased with His own blood. When the Lord made this purchase, He paid the entire debt of all the sins of all mankind for all time, once and for all (Heb. 10:12). There will be no repossession of our souls by Satan because our spiritual account is still in the red. We are bought and paid for by our Lord, and we truly do belong to Him.
This truth was one of the key elements in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. In 1 Cor. 6:19, 20 he said, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” Those Christians needed to understand that they were wholly owned by the Savior. When they were washed in the blood of the Lamb in baptism for the forgiveness of sins, they were purchased by Him. They were then His possession and needed to conduct themselves appropriately.
The same is true for those who are Christians today. We have been bought and paid for by our Lord Jesus Christ. The full price has been paid and there will be no repossession of our souls by Satan. We therefore have confidence as we face the future, because we are the wholly-owned property of the Son of God, and we therefore have a responsibility to act like those who belong to the Lord. We are bought and paid for.