Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paying taxes is your Christian duty

Photo by Zenobia_Joy
The Tax Man Cometh

For those of us here in the United States that have the joyful blessing of paying quarterly estimated taxes, today, September 15, is supposed to be installment number three of four payments for tax year 2011. When I became an ordained minister 12 years ago, I started having to pay my own taxes. Honestly, I wish everybody had to pay quarterly estimated taxes, because then there would be a lot more unhappy Americans regarding the tax code. As a result, we would all probably be voting in better leaders who could do a much better job of controlling government spending and wouldn't raise our taxes all the time. But I digress...

In the name of Jesus, though, we have a group of so-called "Christians" that like to take a more radical stand about paying too much in taxes. On principle, I agree with their assessment of the broken tax code in this country, and when it comes time to vote, I will vote many times on the economic principles and policies of specific candidates. Where I would disagree with some in this group, though, is the outright refusal to pay any taxes at all. This clearly goes against what God's Word teaches us.

God Wants You To Pay Your Taxes

In Romans 13:1-7, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear to believers that believers should pay their taxes:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
From this passage, we see that God has established government authority over us. In fact, Paul even calls those that govern us God's servants! They may not be believers in Christ, but God has established these leaders over us for our own good. We as believers are called upon to submit to these governing authorities, give them respect and honor, and pay our taxes.

Respectfully Disagree, Vote Accordingly, But Pay Up

Back in early church times, the Roman government ruled the empire with an iron fist. The average citizen had little to no say in who ruled and what laws were enacted. They simply submitted to the government authorities or faced possible execution!

American Christian citizens are in a little bit different situation. We do have a say in our government process. We have the right to free speech and the right to talk about our disagreements with the government. We have the right to peacefully demonstrate about these disagreements. We can support candidates for government offices that agree with our positions. We as believers can even run for political positions if we so desire! And finally, we can go to the polls and let our voices be heard through the ballot box with our votes.

When we have done all we can do through these various channels, though, we then need to submit to those in authority, give them respect and honor, and then pay our taxes. It's that cut and dry.

So, if you pay estimated, quarterly taxes, don't forget to cough up your fair share today. God's servants in the government are short on cash too.

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