Rendering unto Caesar

Yesterday, I had occasion to do some reading from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and the passage which I was dealing with contained the following:

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay 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

I’ll be first in line to admit that I dislike paying taxes. I made a fair amount of money online last year, which meant that on my tax return this year, I received a substantially lower refund than I ever had. Actually, on my state return, I had to pay quite a bit. Prior to that, the taxes that I paid were simply an additional number or two on my pay stub. It never really felt like my money because even though I had earned, I never really had the money in hand.

That changed this year when I had to pay for all the extra income last year, watching the total refund dwindle in size every step of the way in my tax preparation software. For the first time, taxes felt much more real to me. And I didn’t like it.

And that dislike was compounded by the fact that the United States now had in its capital city a liberal Congress and arguably the most liberal President we’ve ever had.

But Paul exhorted Christians to pay taxes, and to do so with respect and honor. As an apostle of the risen Christ, he advanced the teaching given by Jesus: Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

That was a principle dropped upon Christians living in the Roman Empire. Christians who risked being thrown to the lion’s den were still obligated to pay taxes to those who would persecute and kill them.

How much more should we be willing to even joyfully pay our taxes today? We do not face death from our government. We do not face sanctioned persecution.

We pay taxes because God has sanctioned government over us. Granted, these governments may often shirk the simple responsibilities of punishing the wicked and rewarding the good laid down for them in the Scriptures, but that is their responsibility. We ought not use their sin as an excuse for us to sin.

A lot of what I have read is sounding the warning bell that President Obama’s policies will raises taxes for us, our children, our grandchildren, and our grandchildren’s children.

We’re a long way from being as harshly taxed as folks were in Jesus’ day. Yet the Lord said, render unto Caesar.

Taxes might mean you’ll have to cut back on your entertainment, your clothing budget, your vices… but when it boils down to it, you’d probably be better off for it. I’ve no doubt that I would be.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t participate in our democracy in such a way as to encourage lower taxes, but I am saying that we shouldn’t fret so much about higher taxes. I think that doing so shows a discontentment of heart from which we as Christians should have already repented.

We are complete in Christ and should be content with Him. No one can tax that away from you.

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