It won't be over until the bills are paid | Tomorrow's World

It won't be over until the bills are paid

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You may think the Holidays are over, but there will be a nagging monthly reminder for all those who were caught up in all of that "Joy to the [commercial] world" last month.

The complete results are not in yet, but it looks like Americans have loaded up on holiday personal debt at a record pace this year. According to one US news magazine: "Despite a devastating hurricane season and worries about rising home utility bills, American consumers spent heartily for the holidays – 8.7 percent more than in 2004 according to a study by SpendingPulse" (Newsweek: Jan. 4, 2006).

The article shows that much of the spending was with credit cards. As the year ended, a Visa USA report stated that its cardholders spent $32.2 billion in the final week before Christmas and Hanukkah. That was a whopping 26.9 percent increase over the final shopping week in 2004. There are no reports available at this time from the four other major credit card companies.

It may have been a deliriously Merry Christmas in Canada, but the wake-up call for the New Year has sounded, according to some experts. The Retail Council of Canada reports that the average Canadian spent nearly $2,000 on Christmas-related items. That amount is often put on credit cards.

Meanwhile, across the pond in the United Kingdom, early 2006 financial reports show that our British cousins were even more generous this Christmas; spending with credit cards hit a record £29 billion in December. Personal debt in the UK – the highest in Europe – has increased by 41 percent, from £2,151 to £3,034 per head in the past five years.

It isn't only individual debt that continues to grow, national debt also increases. The figures mount astronomically as we go around the world. In fact, worldwide debt was estimated to be $12,700,000,000,000 in 2004 ( The United States leads with a staggering $1,400,000,000,000 as of 2001.

While it is tempting to blame huge personal debt on holiday shopping binges, the sad truth is that personal debt grows from year-round spending beyond our means, with that extra "holiday" kick thrown in.

While worried experts point to out-of-control consumerism (people buying things), we ask the obvious questions: Why? What drives this insatiable appetite for material possessions, for us and our loved ones, for our nations? Why aren't we satisfied with what we have and continue to strive for even more?

The Great God of the Universe has given us laws to live by; laws, which, if kept, would result in a totally satisfying life. But man, in rejecting these laws, has given himself over to unrestrained desire for things. And what he does not have, he covets. The Apostle James wrote of this nagging hunger: "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:1–3).

This is a classic case of breaking God's tenth commandment: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's" (Exodus 20:17).

Life is more than the accumulation of things; more than the callow saying that: "He who dies with the most toys, wins." The Bible cautions us to keep our minds on the things of God not wealth, power, physical possessions (Proverbs 23:4–5).

To gain a better perspective on just what it is that God has in mind for us, read our Tomorrow's World article "Real Abundant Life." It will show you why all the wealth and possessions you may acquire in this physical life will never really satisfy.