I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We all laugh at that because that is for sure in the natural. But taxes are an issue that seems to be always floating around different parts of our minds. Did I take enough exemptions? Does this qualify for a deduction? Will I owe or get a refund? Then during tax filing season it all revs up working toward the deadline of April 15th. Many of us are frantically looking for receipts and pulling important papers together. Then when we finally file, we breathe a sigh of relief and perhaps dream of what we will spend our refund check on.
One day the religious leaders asked Jesus a question to test him: “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Luke 20:22-25) This was the famous quote of our Lord that put His enemies to silence. So brilliant! Give to God the tithe and give to the government the tax. The apostle Paul would echo this in his letter to the Roman Christians: (Rom 13:7) Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
This whole issue of taxes is touchy for many. A person may disagree about how high taxes are and how the tax money is spent. Some have even forbidden paying their taxes resulting in fines and even imprisonment. Others have cheated the government hoping to never get caught. This might include hiding some personal income (under the table) or fudging on the numbers when filing. But we know the way of the Christian is honesty in business and taxes. (Pro 16:11) Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s . . . And we know that as we render to Cesar, God will bless us for being upright. Plus, we know God will provide for all our needs, so why cheat? (Mat 17:27) Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” (see also Gen 22:8, 14; Phil 4:19)
Taxes have a way of dividing people. The kingdom of Israel was separated into northern and southern kingdoms permanently because of a tax issue under king Rehoboam and his failure to budge on tax heavy taxes his father Solomon had imposed on the land (1 Kings 12:1-24). (See also Dan 11:20). We look at our legislators today arguing over less tax and more tax. This makes us also think of how far back this goes, even to the Boston Tea Party of 1773! We also might disagree on how the tax money is disbursed based on personal opinion and ethic. And speaking of ethic, I just tell the Lord to make sure my taxes won’t go to fund that abortion but go to improving the streets in my neighborhood!