Let's face it, everybody hates paying taxes! Most people complain bitterly about the amount of taxes they have to pay and there are whole industries devoted to helping people find ways to legitimately reduce the amount of tax they pay. There are also plenty of people who illegally evade taxes too, which is a dangerous and pointless exercise because eventually the authorities will catch up with them and they will suffer the consequences.
As for me, I am of the opinion that if you are paying a lot of tax even after legitimately minimizing the tax impact on your income, then you should be happy because if you are paying a hefty amount of tax you must have earned an even heftier amount of income. So don't complain about it because there are plenty of people who would like to be in your situation.
And the bible is also very clear in these passages about paying taxes along with other things that we must do with respect to our dealings with the authorities of the land we live in.
So let us first look at the scriptures of this section of Romans 13.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:6-7)
In my last post I wrote about the need to respect the governing authorities for they are the servants of God to exercise His authority across the land. The first few verses of Romans 13 tell us that no authority exists on earth except that which has been set up by God.
Yes there are some pretty awful governments about the world, but those that exist God has put in place or allowed to come into power for the purpose of doing His will. The other side of the coin is that if even these bad governments exist in some places and they have been permitted to reign by God, then the alternatives in those countries must be a whole lot worse.
Every government across the world needs to have an income to be able to provide the infrastructure and services a government needs to provide for the good government of the people. Typically that income is generated by taxation or fees and charges for services.
The question we need to ask is whether we want those services, such as good roads, clean water, electricity, communications, a defense force, a police and justice system and so on. If the answer is yes, and it should be yes, then we need to fund it through the payment of our taxes, charges, fees and levies.
No point arguing about it, if you want the services they have to be funded.
And God who establishes the governing authorities is quite clear that they need to take the taxes so they can rule effectively and provide the goods and services of government. He says, “Pay your taxes!” Not just some but all of them that should be paid, taxes to whom taxes are due and revenues to whom revenue is due.
Who “Owns” Money?
An interesting thing to note here is that money, which is what we use to pay taxes with, is not a creation of God. It is the creation of man for the purpose of simplifying trade by establishing a method of determining value of a product. The process of trade without the use of money becomes horribly complicated and inefficient.
We see Jesus speaking about who “owns” money when the Pharisees were attempting to find fault with Jesus regarding money and the paying of taxes to Caesar.
17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. (Matthew 22:17-21)
In this passage Jesus is quite clear. Money is the creation of the government, in this case Caesar for it was his likeness that appeared on the coins. Thus Jesus showed that if it is the government who mint the money and they are seeking some of what you earn back in taxes, then give it to them. It is their right and privilege to ask for it and we should pay what is asked.
As an interesting aside here, Jesus also tells us that we should render to God the things that are God's. He is saying also that we should not mix them up. You don't give to Caesar the things that should belong to God, nor do you give to God the things that belong to Caesar.
Taking that further, we saw a situation where the governing authority, in this case Herod the king, wrongfully took what should have belonged to God and was punished for it. Note these words in Acts 12.
20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. (Acts 12:20-23)
The people worshiped Herod calling him a god and Herod did not reject them or rectify the issue. He took this praise and glory for himself rather than telling the people it was the true God who provided for all people. Thus Herod was smote and killed by God for not rendering to God the things that were God's.
So too we should not think we are doing a service to God when we render to Him the things that belong to the government. The classic example of this is in tithing. Many churches seek people to pay money to them as a form of tithing. This is wrong for money is the invention of man, not God.
As you study tithing you find that nowhere in the scriptures do they teach you to offer money as a tithe. Tithes were only to be taken from the produce of the land, flocks, cattle, grain, oil, fruits and so on. Why? Because the produce of the land is the fruit given by God. These are the things that God gives man and so He was asking for some back to give to the Levites for their work in managing the affairs of the temple. No one else but the Levites are entitled to take the tithes also for it was given to them as a perpetual due.
Any minister today then who is asking for money as a tithe is asking for the produce of Caesar, not God, and that is wrong. Furthermore, if they do not have the genealogy to prove they are descended from the tribe of Levi, then they do not even have the right to the tithe regardless of whether it is money or what is meant to be paid in produce given by God.
Respect and Honour
And this brings us to the last verse of this section in Romans 13 which tells us we must give respect to whom respect is owed and honour to whom honour is owed.
Again if there are members of government who have positions of authority, whether as president, prime minister, cabinet ministers, senators, governors or whatever, then the title and position they hold demands your respect. It matters not whether or not you like the person in the role. They have a daunting challenge to govern efficiently, justly and fairly and so they deserve respect and honour for the role they have to do.
But those who cheat and act unjustly, who disrespect and take advantage of people do not deserve respect and honour. If they are in an elected position then they can be removed at the next election, and so they should be. Government is not a place to feather their own nest, it is a place of service where those elected serve the needs of the people.
And it is the same in the church. Those who are in positions of authority deserve the respect and honour due to them for the work they do for the Lord as they administer to the needs of the church. They have a difficult and often unenviable role to play to ensure the church is well maintained, young members are fed the word of God, doctrine is sound and trouble is kept at bay.
But those who use a position in church to “fleece the flock” need to be removed. They do not deserve honour or respect and God will deal with them.
So in closing, pay your taxes. Certainly minimize them by any legal methods available, but do not begrudge paying taxes and revenues to those to whom they are due. And also honour and respect those in positions that deserve such recognition. It is by doing these things, by living in observance of the laws of the land and respecting the authorities established by God that we prove ourselves to be servants of God's will.
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The Sons Are Free
Paying Taxes To Caesar
Self Righteousness And Healing On The Sabbath
Straining Out A Gnat And Swallowing A Camel
Render To Caesar The Things That Are Caesars
Christian Giving Vs Tithing
Representatives And Rewards From God