Saturday, March 1, 2014

Deep in the Heart of Taxes, Part I

No, I didn't invert my vowels.  It's just "that time of year" and taxes have been on my mind. (Though maybe I should have titled it "Deep in the Bowels of Taxes?"  Ugh...)

With my husband driving his mom to her tax accountant in the high desert this morning and my own work sifting through W-2's, 1099's, deductions and contributions the past few weeks, I have been focusing, more than I typically like, on money.  Of course, there's also the whole "Colleen is in her senior year and will be leaving for a whole new set of experiences that we're honored to pay for," line of circumstances as well.  So I've been taking a very methodical approach to our budget of late, making spreadsheets, sorting paperwork and revising our plan.

I inherited my dear Daddy's acumen for finances, the sum of which parts total a philosophy of "let's give away a bunch of money to people who need it and hope there's enough for food later."  I kid, of course.  He wasn't that extreme, but I do wholly credit my mom with what can only be considered a miraculous achievement of feeding, housing and saving for five children on a shoestring budget.  I think I heard one time that in the later years of their marriage, the local fueling station would just send my mom a bill at the end of the month, because if she put $10 in Daddy's pocket, it would invariably end up in the hands of the homeless rather than his gas tank!

Anyway, days of dollar scrutiny always leave me with a question in my heart regarding wealth and our Heavenly Father.  It's a subject I contemplate and pray about frequently. There are essentially two main philosophies on wealth from a biblical standpoint.  While I wish I were a learned scholar on the subject, I will confess the more I read from both viewpoints, the more confused I become. Almost unfortunately, I can understand both sides. Boiled down to a simple verse on either side (though it's soooo much more complicated, I realize.  Or is it?  See?!?  I can't make up my mind!) are passages from Ecclesiastes and Matthew:

"19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 5:19

When on the other end of the spectrum...

"21 Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.'" - Matthew 19:21-23
(Passages from New International Version Bible)

Personally, I'd prefer to never have to worry about the concept and just claim Matthew 6:27-33 as my motto:  

"And who of you by being worried can add a single [q]hour to his [r]life?28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you."

But the reality is that, though we needn't worry from where our food and shelter will come, we still, especially here in the Western world, have the ability to amass wealth.  And with that ability comes a choice.  
Will I store?  
Or will I share?
What does He want for us?
What is the right choice?

Stay tuned for the message on my heart in tomorrow's Part II post of "Deep in the Heart of Taxes."  

{Wow, first a post on death and now two on taxes?!?
Talk about poking the bear!
Thanks for sticking with me through 
these sometimes controversial topics.
And thanks especially for reading.}

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