This time of the year as people is preparing their tax forms and many are hoping for a return. Your annual tax refund can underwrite a summer vacation, a week’s worth of groceries or any number of investments, depending on your circumstances. But the effectiveness of your decision might have more to do with how you think than how much you earn.
Your refund is earned income, part of your earnings, so plan accordingly. Invest in 401(k) or savings. Don’t take the enjoyment out of dollars you got back from the government but at the same time make sure you’re being objective with yourself so the short term enjoyment has a long-term benefit. Plan wisely for the future.
Are you struggling with debt? Retail stores love it when you buy stuff on credit. Many cash register purchases include a pitch for a credit card. Businesses offer “Zero percent financing” and “no payments for 90 days” to lure you in. The plan is simple: Entice customers to buy what they can’t afford. But if you can’t afford it now, you probably can’t afford it in 90 days. Then, the same store that offered you the too-good-to-be deal with a smile isn’t so friendly when they want their money.
Even if you’ve never taken the credit card bait, odds are you’ve struggled with a different kind of debt. Maybe it was a dating relationship that went too far or a grudge you never meant to carry. Maybe it was a tiny lie that escalated into full-bloom deception. “I’m sorry your credit has been declined.” Whatever your debt, the Bible tells us we’ve all been spiritually bankrupt. Romans 3:23 reveals, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Like retail gimmicks, sin looks appealing—at first. It promises instant gratification and no pain. We’ve all bought into sin, not realizing how much it would cost, how far it would take us, or where it would leave us. There’s nothing we can do to make ourselves right before God. No matter what our physical checkbooks say, our spiritual lives are bankrupt with Christ. Have you ever been to a restaurant to have the cashier say “someone has already paid your bill?” Or have you anticipated paying a bill that you thought would be late to be informed that anonymously someone has so graciously paid the bill in your behalf? “All your debts have been cleared.” That’s when Jesus stepped in. Colossians 2: 13-14 explains, when you were dead in trespasses…He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.” Even while we were sinning, Jesus willingly paid our spiritual debt. “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” You can’t earn your way to heaven and Jesus is the “only” way to heaven. Don’t be deceived. Ephesians 2: 8-9 confirms, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Though many people try to work off their sin through good works, Scripture is clear: We can’t pay our own spiritual debt; we’re saved by grace through Christ’s work on the cross. First John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If you’re tired of feeling weighed down by sin, ask Christ to cancel your debt and give you new life in Him. Follow the words of Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If you choose to believe Jesus died for your sins and to receive new life through Him, pray a prayer similar to this one: “Dear God, I know I’m a sinner. I believe Jesus died to forgive me of my sins. I now accept Your offer of eternal life. Thank You for forgiving me. From this day forward, I will choose to follow You. God, I know you are at work in me and in all my trials. Therefore, Satan has no hold over me. I am not going to deteriorate in my trust. I know I will not fall. My sin is grievous, but I have repented. Now it’s time to rise up and rebuild. In the Name of Jesus. Amen!”