April 15 … a distant memory at last! The mere mention of the date is enough to make certain people panic. These are usually the same people that are seen on the news driving up to the post office at 11:58 PM to beat the deadline. Of course, now that we have electronic filing, some of those people are now clicking the submit buttom in their pajamas rather than driving out to the post office.
If the Internet shuts down around midnight on April 15, we’ll know it’s because of all the last-minute electronic filers.
April 15 doesn’t strike that much fear in me. In fact, I don’t get all that bothered by the thought of paying taxes. That’s not to say I enjoy how our tax dollars are often misspent — but I’ll save that rant for the blog.
I realized a number of years ago that what I enjoyed in terms of roads, bridges, emergency services, etc., far outweighed whatever I paid in tax dollars. There are parks I can enjoy, trails I can walk, all available without paying admission. Taxes build roads, fund schools, and provide a quality of life that is the envy of many people throughout the world.
Jesus was once questioned about paying taxes. During his day, Israel was occupied by the Roman army and the Jews were forced to pay taxes to Rome. Many Jews resented paying taxes to a foreign government.
Jesus asked to see one of the coins that was used as currency. “Who’s picture is on it,” he asked. The answer was obvious because it was a portrait of Caesar. Then Jesus added, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”
I don’t begrudge paying taxes any more than I begrudge giving money to the church. Both are a part of my responsibility of being a mature Christ-follower. The difference between paying taxes and giving to the church is this: the IRS will come after you if you don’t pay or pay enough.
God, on the other hand, will not ask for an audit. He won’t garnish your wages or charge a penalty for being late. But the Bible is clear about one thing: God blesses those who give cheerfully and generously to further the work of the Kingdom. Many otherwise mature believers often miss out on God’s full blessing by not becoming consistent givers.
As a pastor, let encourage you to do two things: pay your taxes and make giving to the church a regular habit. You will make the IRS happy and more importantly, you’ll enjoy God’s blessing in a new way!