Thursday, April 10, 2008


Some years ago, I was watching a British comedian who was entertaining an American audience. He was quite funny through his whole act, but one thing he said really made me laugh. He looked at the crowd, and said, “So, you people left England because of taxation….How’s that working out for you?”

How true is that irony? Today, we pay more in taxes than those who left England back at the beginning of our American history. We pay sales tax, property tax, and many more including state and federal income tax.

Did you know that in 1916 the income tax law had just over 11,000 words, but the 1996 version has over 7 million words? That is ten times the number of words in the Bible! Does our tax system confuse you? You are in good company. Albert Einstein said, “The hardest thing to understand is the income tax."

It may be hard to understand, and it may be frustrating to continue paying taxes, but we don’t have much choice. Not only is the system here to stay, but people have been taxed ever since there has been organized government. Even the Bible addresses taxes in several areas.

Three instances come to my mind concerning taxes in the Bible. The first is in Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. Of course, if this tax had not been imposed by Caesar, then Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. There would have been no stable, no manger, possibly no shepherds in the fields, etc. The Christmas story would have been much different.

The second occurrence that I think of is in Matthew 17:24-27 where the temple tax is due. Peter does not want to pay the tax, but Jesus instructs him to go fishing. Jesus says that the tax would be found in the fish’s mouth. (Boy, I wish I could pay my taxes like that!)

The third is the fact that Jesus called Matthew to become a disciple. To me, this is a perfect example of why Jesus came to earth. This story is found in Matthew 9:9-13.

The tax collectors of Jesus day were social outcasts. The Jews didn’t like them because they were Jews who extorted money from their own people. The Romans didn’t like them or trust them for the same reason. Because of their status in society, they usually only gathered and socialized with other tax collectors, and those who were also less socially accepted.

When Jesus asked Matthew to join him, he immediately left his job and followed. He was very excited, but the only friends he could tell were the least desirable people in town. So he threw a party for them and invited them to meet Jesus.

The bottom line to this is very obvious. Jesus does not care about who you are, what you have done, what you wear, how much money you have. He just wants you as you are. We may be burdened with taxes, physical problems, financial problems, relationship problems, or a whole host of things that frustrate and blind us to the love of Christ. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, Jesus simply says, “Follow me”.

Does following Christ mean that we will never have difficulties? No. It does, however, mean that our focus will no longer be on the things of this world, but the things of God’s Kingdom. Wherever you are, look up to the God of all creation and ask for help. He cares.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

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