The moment I became a college freshman, money was immediately deemed scarce. Vendors, who lined the only walkway to the upper campus classrooms, enticed me with supposedly marked-down prices for tennis shoes, cheaper cellular phone plans and warehouse-like sterling silver carts (like the ones they have in every single shopping mall). They even had deals on a wide range of compact discs, the essential tool for every college student. But the most enticing demon that lured me into its grip was the “Free T-shirt.”
We live in a world where temptation is a major part of our every day lives. People tempt us, tangible objects tempt us and even our own thoughts tempt us. For me, my temptation was spending money, money I did not have.
The “Free T-shirt” was a ploy credit card vendors used to lure naïve college students into signing their lives away. I was one of those students. Citibank Visa gave me my first credit card when I was 18 years old, with a credit limit of $500. Six months later, my available credit increased to $3,000. And that was where my downfall began.
Like many early college students, I was suffering from a high school heartache and nursed it by showering myself with gifts, an excuse to spend money. I already went over the limit on my Citibank, so I applied for another card. After another application and another “Free T-shirt,” Capitol One approved me with the same limit as my previous card. I fell into a deeper hole of $6,000.
At that point, I realized I had a problem (so I thought) and I decided to apply for another credit card, with enough credit to consolidate my previous two. I was not given as much as I expected, so, stricken by frustration, I splurged once again. Throughout my college career, I became in debt to nearly 10 different credit companies, with more than $15,000 attached to my grave.
Resisting temptation, however, is easier than one thinks. Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles, offers a solution in breaking the mold of our desires. He said in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Initially, I fell short to temptation, but, as I am currently working on getting myself out of debt, I find Peter’s advice a blessing. It was not until a few months ago, I realized I needed to be “self-controlled and alert.” I finally realized and accepted the fact I had a problem. I needed self-control.
Admitting my sin to God through prayer was the first step. For the longest time, I held on to my credit cards for those times of emergency. But after cutting up every single credit card I had, I feel God started showing me a responsible way of handling my money.
I also began the practice of tithing, giving a portion of what I earned to Him. I never understood what tithing was all about, so I never committed myself to the practice, but God’s faithfulness was and is evident. In my current place of employment, I am earning the same income I was making one year ago, yet, by tithing, I am able to give to God what is rightfully His, put some money aside for savings, pay more than my minimum monthly payments and still have enough extra for leisurely withdrawal.
Spending money I do not have is no longer an issue because the credit cards are not there to tempt me, but overspending is. So to make sure I do not spend money on unnecessary things, I avoid places I know I would be tempted. I never carry cash unless I know what specific thing I need to buy. I also have a few people I make myself accountable to, to make sure I am on the right track.
Temptation starts off small, but ends up negatively huge. Giving in to temptation cost me two “Free T-shirts” that ended up with a debt value of close to $20,000.
Be alert, have self-control and resist temptation. It’ll save you a buck or two.