It’s tax day! I hope that is not a surprising statement for you.
This, however, might surprise you. Jesus is glad you are paying taxes. By doing so, you are obeying his teaching.
“Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar?” a group of detractors once asked Jesus, hoping to trap him as an anti-government insurrectionist. Then came his famous reply, “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Luke 20:22,25).
Should we support God or government? Both. Even if our government, like the Roman empire, is not inherently Christian. That’s not their job.
What is the government’s job? To keep peace and order. How? By enforcing it with whatever just means are necessary. Who assigns this objective? God does. Do you remember studying in the 4th commandment that government is one of the three representatives of God’s authority on earth? Through the apostle Paul (who himself was imprisoned by government authorities), we hear this teaching:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Supporting our government—by keeping its laws, honoring its authority, paying taxes and saying prayers—is “good.” Because government is good. “The one in authority is God’s servant for your good … This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants” (Romans 13:4,6).
Oh, don’t worry. Governments and their leaders whose agendas reject Christian principles or oppose Christian people are always on God’s agenda. No government power has authority over God. They are “God’s servants.”
Pharaoh let the people go. Nebuchadnezzar exiled God’s chosen nation as part of a larger journey under God’s direction. Augustus issued a census that fulfilled ancient prophecy for Jesus’ birth. And in our Christian creeds we even recognize Pontius Pilate as God’s servant for his role in the redemptive act of Jesus’ death. Present day governments, especially in America, provide the peace and order helpful for the Church to preach and teach the gospel.
“This is good. This is also why you pay taxes.”
PRAYER: God, thank you for our government, and for peace and order. Settle those nations in unrest. Bless government leaders. Extend your kingdom through those on earth. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Slow down with this. Meditate on the Scriptures above, and the references to governing leaders in the Bible. Use the PRAY acronym.
- Praise (tell God what you appreciate about government, blessings you enjoy)
- Repent (tell God about your sins against government violating the 4th commandment, trust in his promises of forgiveness through Jesus who obeyed government condemning him to the cross)
- Ask (go ahead, think big, or focus on a small detail, God wants to hear it all)
- Yield (talk to God about the next step after you say “Amen,” how you want faith to lead the way, how you are willing to be part of his answer and see it develop for your good)