Death and Taxes

taxes[1]

This past Monday (April 18), Connie and I joined millions of others who sent a check to both the State and Federal government: We had to pay our taxes. We waited till the last day because I don't like giving the government money any sooner than I have to. I wish I could say I do it joyfully, but I don't. I do it because it's the right thing to do. Paying taxes is a Christian duty. I do however feel slightly better knowing that I am not alone in feeling frustrated at times.

Ray Stedman who for years pastored Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California tells how in his early years he found himself frustrated because he paid so much in taxes to a government that in his opinion wasted most of the money. So one year he wrote a check to the "Infernal Revenue Service." It made him feel better, until they cashed the check. The next year he changed it to the "Eternal Revenue Service" but they still took his money. Finally, he said "I repented of all my sins and now hope to pay my taxes cheerfully." Most of us may never get that far. It's hard to be cheerful about sending that much money to Washington. But at least we can have the satisfaction of knowing that when we pay our taxes, we're doing exactly what Jesus (Matthew 22:20) and Paul told us to do. "For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed." Romans 13:6-7

These verses are so clear that they need little comment. Paul calls human rulers "ministers of God." As such, they deserve four things from us: Taxes, revenue, respect, and honor. We may think we are heavily taxed (and we are), but hardly more so than in the first century. Rome had an income tax, a head tax, a poll tax, a road tax, a wagon tax, a crop tax, an import tax, an export tax, a harbor tax, and a bridge tax - to name only a few. The Caesars liked to live in style and it cost a lot of money to maintain that huge empire, so they taxed their people heavily in order to pay for everything.

As painful as it might seem, paying taxes is our obligation and privilege for living in this wonderful nation.

See you on Sunday!

In the light of His glory and grace,

Pastor Doug