Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Transform the Antisocal Rule-breaker Pattern

“So, Adriana,” the accountant said over the phone. “The upshot is that the IRS plans to audit you and Ben.” He cleared his throat. “They’re questioning your lack of reported income for the past two years. Being self-employed, you’ll need to assemble your income records. The IRS wants to see how these records tally with your expenses and bank deposits.”

“Oh,” said Adriana, her heart sinking. I’ve got to be careful what I say here, she thought. “I’m not sure what records we’ve actually kept.”

“Well, the bank will have deposit records, even if you don’t. I have an appointment with the IRS in two weeks.”

Adriana hung up the phone and relayed the information to her husband, who stared back at her blankly.

Ben paced up and down the den carpet. “What are we going to do? How are we going to pay the IRS? We’ve got no spare cash.” Adriana hunched over in the chair, eyes tearing.

The next day, Ben and Adriana gathered together their documentation and sent it on to the accountant.

A week later, they sat in the kitchen having coffee. Ben sighed as he took a sip from his steaming mug. “I lied, Adriana. Thought I could out smart them.” He looked out the kitchen window at the icy gray day. “I padded my expenses. I under reported income. I didn’t declare cash I received. No way was the IRS going to get my hard-earned money.”

Me, too. I did it out of fear. But still, I agreed to it.” Adriana touched his hand. “Kind of a relief to get it out in the open.”


She frowned. “I forgot to tell you. When the accountant called to confirm he’d got our papers, he said he didn’t know whether the IRS had randomly selected us or something had triggered their attention.” She looked searchingly at Ben. “I wonder if God is trying to tell us something.”

At Ben’s suggestion, they got down on their knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness.

The morning of the audit arrived.

“Whatever the outcome, Adriana,” said Ben, tiredly wiping his brow, “God has done quite the work in us this past week. I believe we’re to make more than just a moral decision here. The Lord wants a fundamental shift in the way we handle finances. No more deceit. Only honesty.”

That afternoon, the accountant called. “You owe the IRS two thousand dollars. I’ve arranged it so you can pay by monthly installments if you have to.”

On Sunday, when Ben and Adriana attended church, the pastor began his sermon with a verse from Proverbs 3:12: “For those whom the Lord loves he corrects.”

Practical Growth Stretches for Antisocial Rule-breakers

1. Commit yourself to several months of community service work. Volunteer in after-school programs. Help out at the Salvation Army. Pick up litter off the sidewalk. Acts of generosity and service help to counter self-centered thinking and remove the desire to take advantage of others. 

2. Read through the following list of Scriptures. In a prayer journal, write your sense of how they apply to you. Record your progress in outgrowing the Rule-breaker pattern.

  • We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God (2 Cor 4:2).
  • Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other (1 Cor 10:24).
  • Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another (Eph 4:25).
3. Speak to your spouse or a friend about the pain of your childhood and adolescent years. How you learned to outsmart people instead of trusting them. How you learned the pattern of self-aggrandizement instead of cooperation and love. Ask these people to help you become aware of your Rule-breaker pattern and to support your growth and change. 

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