In case you forgot, today is Tax Day and your taxes are due today. Karen and I paid ours Sunday night through the convenience of the internet. There are among some fringe “Christian” movements the idea that we do not have to pay our taxes because the federal government has moved beyond the original intent our Constitution and individual liberty. While the latter may be true, the former is counterintuitive to the argument. We get the government we deserve; we have the right to choose our rulers. So what about paying our taxes? You already know the answer because Jesus provides it:
“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.” (Matthew 22:15-22)
As Christians we are expected to be obedient to the laws of our government. John Locke, and I am paraphrasing him, said any law that is contrary to the laws of nature and to the laws of God is an unlaw…rather, an “ill law” is how Locke presented it. Those are laws we can refuse to obey. However, taxes do not fall in that category.
I do not want to dwell on the issue of taxes however, because the issue in Jesus’ teaching is not paying our taxes. It is honoring God. And one of the ways we honor God is with our tithes and offerings. We prove to God that all we have is His and from Him. And when we refuse to be obedient in bringing our tithes and offerings to God, we steal from Him:
“‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” (Malachi 3:8-10)
I know there are many pastors who teach that if you need to get your budget right before you make the full tithe then that is okay, and I used to try that myself. If that is you, let me ask you this question: “How’s that working out for you?”
Have you seen a vast improvement in your finances by taking that approach? Let me ask you another question: “When you give your limited tithe, how does it make you feel when you put it in the offering plate?”
Do you feel guilty? You think there might be a reason for that?
So many Christians hate Malachi 3:8-10 because too many pastors use it as a sledgehammer, but that is not how God used it. God had enough evidence that He could and can punish us for being disobedient with the tithe, but in His graciousness He calls us to repentance and gives us a heavenly promise with it. And not only is the promise filled with physical abundance, but more importantly it is filled with spiritual bounty. Matthew Henry, commenting on Malachi 3, explains:
“The men of that generation turned away from God, they had not kept his ordinances. God gives them a gracious call. But they said, Wherein shall we return? God notices what returns our hearts make to the calls of his word. It shows great perverseness in sin, when men make afflictions excuses for sin, which are sent to part between them and their sins. Here is an earnest exhortation to reform. God must be served in the first place; and the interest of our souls ought to be preferred before that of our bodies. Let them trust God to provide for their comfort. God has blessings ready for us, but through the weakness of our faith and the narrowness of our desires, we have not room to receive them. He who makes trial will find nothing is lost by honoring the Lord with his substance.”
We do not trust God with “our” money because our faith is weak and our desires are too small. We do not want to please God so we rob from Him. And it all comes down to not trusting Him to provide.
Why? Because our faith is weak.
Yes Bro Dave, that is me! How do I grow my faith?
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers
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