When we hear the counsel to "stay out of debt," we usually think of staying out of debt financially. And there is no question how important that is, but do we ever stop to think that it's also important to stay out of debt in many other ways?
We need to make sure that none of the "bank accounts" of our lives are overdrawn. We need to ensure that our spiritual bank account, as well as our emotional, physical and mental accounts are not being depleted faster than they are being replenished.Consider our emotional account. In the stress and pressure of today's living, it is easy to get strung out emotionally.
Recently, a father and mother took their 11-year old daughter on vacation to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks in southern Utah. After a week of viewing the grandeur of nature and hiking the trails to hidden waterfalls and scenic overlooks, the daughter exclaimed:
"This has been such a fun trip. I really needed to get away."
That comment says a lot about the day and age in which we live. Even 11-year-olds may feel the need to "get away from it all" for awhile to replenish their emotional accounts, to give balance to their lives.
Sometimes the load that we carry seems too heavy for us. We may take from our emotional account more than we put back in, and when that happens we may be in danger of sinking into emotional debt.
How do we climb out of this kind of debt? Or physical or mental debt? Or especially how do we avoid spiritual debt?
If we become debtors when we take more than we give, then we become creditors when we give more than we take.
Simply put, we must give in order to stay out of these kinds of debts.
Perhaps we understand this principle the most when it is applied to our spiritual bank account. When we give love or service or kindness, spiritually our lives are filled.
"For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another," records the first epistle of John. "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shuttteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? . . . Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:11, 17-18.)
And did not King Benjamin admonish, ". . . ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another." (Mosiah 4:15.)
As we reach out in love and service to others, we are making a deposit in our own spiritual savings account. As our thoughts and actions go outward to others, we draw closer to our Heavenly Father, thereby becoming more spiritual.
And while love and service, truly given, do enrich our lives spiritually, they also help to fill our emotional account. Miraculously, our own load seems lighter when we help carry the load of others. We find more purpose and meaning in our own lives when we seek to lessen the burdens in the lives of others.
It's strange, but the more we give, the greater are our deposits in our spiritual and emotional bank accounts.
However, perhaps the largest deposit is made when we forgive others. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior taught His disciples the manner in which they should pray. The model prayer He gave is generally known as "The Lord's Prayer." One important, yet often ignored, plea in that prayer is, "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matt. 6:12, italics added.)
How we hope our transgressions will be forgiven, even forgotten. Yet we often cling to the memory of the offenses committed against us by others. Almost as a miser hoardes silver and gold, we stockpile the minute details of the wrongs done by others. But such hoarding and stockpiling depletes rather than adds to our own spiritual and emotional accounts.
And what of our physical and mental savings accounts? What are we doing to make regular deposits to ensure that physically and mentally we will have sufficient to cover our demands.
It is so important that none of our accounts be overdrawn.
All areas of our life's bank are filled by living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as we seek to be free from crippling financial debt, we should also seek to be free from other kinds of debt that can cripple the mind, the heart and the spirit. This we can do by following what the Savior has taught us.