2/12/2022 To Pay or Not To Pay?
I know that we have readers from many nations on this blog. So, for those who may not know, now through April 15th is our tax time here in the US.
We receive our earning statements (W2s) from our employers and other documents designating any income we may have acquired over the year, so we can file our tax returns and see what the government gets to keep and what we may get back from ‘over payment’ or deductions.
In past years, I used to look to see how I could get a little more back each year. OK. I wished for a lot more (never happened). My sister and her family have five children so while they kids were growing up, my sister did what they could and claimed deductions to have money through the year, then being a home owner, they always looked for what other deductions they could claim at the end of the year so they could get the most back at filing time. I never asked them how well this worked for them. I never had more than two kids and never owned a home. For me? A moot point! One year my wife and I had a ton of medical bills so I looked at itemizing to see if it would make a difference in my return. After all the computations, itemizing, I got an extra $20 more than the standard allowances! Whoopeee! Can you guess what I have still never done?
More than once I’ve read the passage in the bible on how Jesus handles what is owed the government.
The scribes and Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus into saying who is more important, our government or God. Needless to say, they wanted to go back and tell Herod (or even Pilate) that Jesus was cheating Rome out of what was due. They tried to “butter-up” Jesus up by saying that they knew He was a man of God and He treated all men the same, no matter what their position in life so they asked the question “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar or not? (vs 16)”
Jesus asked them “Why are you tempting Me? You hypocrites! Show me some money”. They brought Him a penny and then He asked them “Whose image and superscription (name, authority) is on this coin?” They replied “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said “Therefore give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and give God the things that belong to God.”
What could they say? They went their way.
The bible tells us that the tithe of the land, whether seed or fruit (or today, $$), is the Lords and is Holy to Him (Lev.27:30). This is what we have and what we earned. The Lord tells us to tithe of our yearly increase of our seed to Him. Again, of what we’ve gained since the previous year.
The Hebrew word maser (H4643) translates ‘one tenth’. God tells us to tithe a tenth. The Greek word is apodekatoo (G586) which translates tithe (something owed to a creditor). Don’t we owe Jesus a debt for our salvation? Now, remember, the ‘tithe’ is God’s. God provides for us throughout the year, so as a “thank You” we give our tithe (10%) back to Him for His goodness towards us. We owe it to Him – as a debt. Right? Now, of course, we don’t give our tithe directly to God. Father has created all things so what need does He have for money? But we do give it to the church, which is what God told the Hebrews to do thousands of years ago so the church, then, can do God’s work. Even the disciples collected money and gave it to the poor.
Now, we don’t tithe to the government, but we do pay a percentage of our income so the government can function. People with lower incomes pay a lower percentage while those with higher incomes pay a higher percentage. Nonetheless, we all want to get a little more back (if we can) in our return.
The government allows us to claim a percentage of our charitable donations for the year (along with other deductions). Don’t most people take full advantage of these deductions? (I think so)
My perspective is that what I give to God is God’s and what I give to Uncle Sam is the government’s. I don’t claim my tithe (which I can do by law) in my tax return because I feel I’m saying “OK, government, I gave to God but now I want you to give some of that back to me so I’m claiming my tithe.” What is God’s is God’s. The government shouldn’t have to pay me back, even a part, of what I give to God.
The scribes and the Pharisees were hoping to get Jesus to commit not giving to Caesar for Caesar was not a ‘spiritual’ leader. Then they could accuse Jesus of cheating the government. What did Jesus tell the disciples when challenged if they were going to pay taxes? Subjects to the ‘king’ are taxed so Jesus sent the disciples to catch a fish. There would be money in its mouth with which the disciples could then pay not only what they owed but for Jesus as well (Matt. 17:24-27).
So do we pay “Caesar” what is due Caesar? Of course. But I personally believe that what is God’s is God’s and should not be reconciled with what we give Caesar (the government).
I give to
the government what belongs to the government and I give to God what belongs to
God. I don’t mix the two.
I do what I do, but I’m not telling anyone what they should do.
Yet, I say, think about it, then ask the Lord what to do.