Death And Taxes
It’s that time of year again. People are scurrying about trying to get their taxes in on time. Some will undoubtedly file for an extension. Others had them done at the beginning of February and are sitting back enjoying the peace. Still, others will be busy trying to collect the mountain of papers needed to complete the task. One of the most disheartening statements I printed out in preparation for tax season was the interest I received on one of my accounts; it was a whopping five cents. It’s odd that when referring to the adoption of our constitution, which looked like it would be a permanent fixture, one would remind us that, “… but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
It seems even the framers made no guarantees except those concerning our lives and paying what we owe. But why are tax collectors so reviled then? What is it about paying taxes that upsets us so much? We pay for goods and services all the time – why be upset about taxes? It got me thinking. Perhaps our objections stem from the belief that our taxes are not used to fund programs we support. I wonder if we would feel the same if we could see our dollars at work.
Every year, my town sends out a notice detailing the town’s water supply quality. In this publication, graphs and charts show the testing results of our water. There is a sense of accountability in that. They also send out an update on public works projects, and the school sends out a newsletter explaining all the good things happening and recapping what our school taxes had been spent on. Again, there is accountability – we can see where our money’s going. Knowing that something that costs us time, money, or labor is being put to good use, fixing our roads, paying for good school programs, and the like makes all the difference in our attitude.
So what are our taxes when it comes to God? In the bible, when asked about taxes, Jesus admonishes the askers to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But the rest of the quote is often left out – And give to God what is God’s. Romans 13:5-7 tells us to pay whatever we owe, whether revenue, respect, or honor. It’s less about the money than about making good on the gift. If you have had the blessing of an income – pay a portion to the person who made the job possible. If you buy something of value – pay for it. And, if you owe respect and honor to someone – pay them their due. If that is the point – then what do we owe God?
We Owe Everything.
Real taxes are those that honor and respect what we have the opportunity to benefit from. If God has blessed us with life – we owe him some of that life. If we have been blessed with a gift – we owe it to God to use the gift for His glory. We can see the benefits we have received every time we take a breath or use our gifts. We are accountable for putting our lives and talents to good use. When was the last time we gave an accounting of what we’ve done with the “money”?
Matthew 22: 17-21 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.[a] 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”