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A Tale of Taxes and Budget

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A Tale of Taxes and Budget

We just finished tax season in the United States, and the General Conference of Elders just convened in Cincinnati. Among many items discussed at the GCE is the annual Strategic Plan and Budget. These had been presented in detail and recommended for approval by the Council of Elders during the February meetings.

For many, taxes and budgets are “painful” experiences that they just endure. Both can be tedious, time-consuming processes, but both can be meaningful and valuable exercises when we understand and appreciate the spiritual reminders that are inherent in the process.

There are those who have said that there is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. God expects us to be wise stewards, and that includes planning the use of the money He provides for us (budgeting) and honestly paying the taxes we owe. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 Proverbs 21:5The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenty; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
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).

God is a planner, and He has a plan for your life. He knows exactly what each of us needs spiritually, mentally, physically and financially to become the people He wants us to become. And He expects us to use—and plan to use—what He gives us. That includes planning financially, so that we become better Christians and examples of His way of life. Remember the lessons from the parable of the talents?

Analogies to Everyday Life

Budgeting and planning help us to prioritize our expenditures and live within our means. We learn to put first things first: God, housing, food, transportation, clothing, and the other necessities of life. Then, there may be extra funds we can use for other comforts and luxuries. When we budget wisely, we appreciate why God gives us the income He does, and we learn an important spiritual principle. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
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).

Budgeting also helps us review and examine the past. What worked? What didn’t? Is this something we should continue, or is there another direction we should go? Did we plan adequately? What needs to improve? What needs to change so we become better stewards and users of what God provides?

We have just come through the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, a time when we examine ourselves and ask God to search our hearts “to see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23 Psalms 139:23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
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). How do we measure up to the standard that is Christ? Is there waste in our lives that needs to be discarded? Do we need to build into our personal budgets an investment of more time spent in service to God and others?

It takes a lot of time and work to go through the detail of our personal lives or that of an organization to understand why things are done the way they are. Some things have just been “done that way” for years and years. But is it the best way or best use of funds?

Sometimes in the budget process when such questions are asked, some people feel like you are “stepping on their toes,” so to speak. But remember that the process of budgeting and planning is done to make the family or organization better, just like self-examination is done for the purpose of improving us. Examination can be tough, and sometimes we need others to show what might be an area of improvement for us—always keeping the goal of the Kingdom of God in mind. “Iron sharpens iron,” the Bible says. How do we react when someone “steps on our toes,” and asks “why?”

There are so many other comparisons and analogies that I could address, but I think you get the point. Appreciating the budgeting process (not rushing through it or avoiding it altogether) can teach us many lessons beyond the amounts we are allocating in each area.

It’s a Good Feeling

When your taxes are done, it’s a good feeling, especially if you have planned well enough that you don’t have a huge tax bill at the end of the year. It’s a good feeling, too, when you have taken the time to diligently plan your finances. Having a balanced budget that reflects the thought, examination, planning, and submission to God’s will makes the effort and time spent worthwhile.

One of my favorite verses has become 2 Chronicles 26:5 2 Chronicles 26:5And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
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: “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” How true that is in all aspects of our daily lives.  UN