Of all the financial situations that people wrestle with, creating and successfully managing a budget has got to be near the top of the list. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: “John, I just can’t stick to my budget.” I get it. You’re smart. You know the math. It seems so simple, but it can become so frustrating.
Most of us make budgets the same way. You write down your expenses in a list and add them up. If the number is less than your income, that’s a good start. If the number is more than your income, there’s some trimming to do. It’s easy to trim the numbers, but you likely will also have to trim your behaviors and expectations. In addition, many things can come up within our own control that can cause us to question or exceed our budget. It no longer sticks. What good is the math if the heart isn’t ready?
Here’s the secret in the budget process: if you want to stick to your budget, your budget must first stick to you. If you’ve ever put an adhesive label on anything, you know that both sides play a significant role in the “sticking” process. One side needs fresh adhesive and the other side needs to be clean. If one or the other is not prepared, then expect to be disappointed. On the other hand, if both sides are prepared properly, expect success! Let’s let God’s word take it from here.
The adhesive must be fresh.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
Have you ever applied a sticker and it just didn’t stick? You peel it off and try again, but it’s just not as sticky. Every time you try to reuse the sticker, it gets weaker and weaker. Are you trying to make the same old budget work, that didn’t work last time? Maybe it’s time to start with a fresh perspective asking God to guide you in the budgeting process so the budget is devoted to Him.
Ask Him to help you look carefully at your expenses, following His wisdom and the will of the Lord. You may come up with the exact same numbers as your old budget, but they will hold a new power when they are surrendered to God and His plans for you. Your budget, prepared in respect and reverence for God, supported by His wisdom, will be ready to stick when you are.
The surface must be clean.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanliness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.” Ezekiel 36:25 (ESV)
We’re all human, which means we’re not the cleanest bunch; that’s why we need Jesus. Even after we say yes to Him, our financial lives can still get a little soiled. In both abundance and scarcity, we can sometimes begin to pay more attention to our money and our stuff than we do to our Jesus.
These financial attitudes can dirty the surface of our hearts and lives. Jesus calls them idols and they have to go. That’s why any budget, attached to an unprepared heart surface, is destined for turmoil and confusion. Only He, and He alone, can wash us clean of all of our transgressions, past, present and future.
The solution is simple and powerful: bathe your budget in the cleansing waters of prayers of thanks and repentance to prepare your heart for the financial goals and opportunities that God has in front of you. A clean heart is a prepared heart.Money gets tricky if your budget’s not sticky. Click To Tweet
I pray that your fresh plans and your clean hearts stick firmly together as you seek to glorify God with the financial resources He has provided to you!
TIP OF THE WEEK: Many times it’s only three or four expense categories that disrupt a budget, and they are most always categories under our control. They can look like small daily or weekly expenditures. Pay closest attention to the little idols in your budget. Little money idols can cause big money problems.