For it is in giving that we receive. — Francis of Assisi

A region of India was infested with rats, so the leaders got together and decided to pay citizens for rat pelts. Sounds brilliant, right? Kill a rat, bring it in, and we’ll give you some cash. What’s wrong with that?

Well, before they knew it, rat farms were popping up all over this community. People started breeding rats for cash—not exactly what the leaders had in mind. It was an unintended consequence.

The same unintended consequences can pop up in our finances—especially when debt is involved. It can be as simple as making one choice to stretch your monthly budget just a little too far. Then something happens that wasn’t planned. You couldn’t afford the thing you had planned, much less the event you hadn’t planned. Stress increases, patience decreases, and someone in your household is forced to get a second job… and you sweat as the interest on your credit card compounds exponentially.

I know, you’re thinking, This isn’t what I signed up for. I just wanted a “more dependable” [translation: nicer] car. But when we’re dealing with debt, there are unintended consequences. When money is tied up in one bill, it can’t bail you out on another.

According to a survey by the American Bankruptcy Institute, 69 percent of those who file for bankruptcy do so because of credit card debt. They didn’t plan on losing everything when they made those purchases. It was an unintended consequence of swiping the card.

But there’s good news: The law of unintended consequences can go both ways.

There can be unintended blessings, too. Blessings that weren’t on your radar. They’re better than anything you hoped or imagined. And there they are—unplanned and totally welcome.

Getting out of debt has some of those unintended blessings: Stress decreases, conflict lessens, wealth builds.

But there is something else—an unintended blessing that your credit card company won’t tell you about. Paul quotes Jesus in Acts 20:35,

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Getting out of debt creates freedom to give. As much joy as there is in getting—and let’s be honest, there’s a lot of joy in getting—there’s even more joy in giving.

Lord, I feel totally alive when I consider the life You’re inviting me to live—one of giving over getting. It sounds larger than life, and I want to participate. I ask for wisdom today as I sit down and look through my budget and ask, “Am I a slave to debt? Or do I have the freedom to give?” Amen.

Taken from Pete’s series Finding Freedom in Your Finances.