We hear a lot about budgets in the news: the Federal budget, state budget, budget cuts, school budgets, family budgets and even church budgets. All this talk about budgets is usually very far removed from the life of faith. In today’s economic climate, budgets are often framed in terms like “making tough decisions” and “tightening the belt”. Practical concerns dominate our thinking about budgets. For some families and businesses the guiding question for budgeting is “How are we going to get through the month?” If you are the “low man on the totem pole” when you hear decision-makers talking about budgets the reaction is often fear. “Will my job or my hours be cut?” Budgets look to the future and the future can often be frightening.
What does faith have to say about budgets? First, I believe our faith tells us, “Do not be afraid.” (Lk. 1:30; see Jn 14:1). The Scriptures repeatedly remind us that God is in charge and that God loves us. “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Mt. 6:34). While we don’t know what the future brings, we can be confident that God has a plan and has prepared a place for us in eternity (Jn. 14:1-3). The future is unknown, but God is waiting for us there and is present there just as He is present here and now.
Budgets also indicate our priorities. Our faith, when it is being lived, helps us to set our priorities in line with God’s priorities. The prophets of Israel are continually calling God’s people back to a way of life based on God’s priorities. High among God’s priorities are: respect for life (e.g. Ex. 20:13) and care for the poor. (e.g. Is. 58:6ff; Lk. 3:11). As we look at our personal, state, federal and even our church budgets:
- Do they reflect the key values of the Scriptures?
- Are we planning for the future God intends trusting confidently in the God who loves us?