As the dreaded April 15th approaches, it’s interesting to note that there are many Christians today who say they “like to get paid in cash” because, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, “I don’t have to pay taxes on it.” This kind of thinking at once surprises me and doesn’t surprise me. First, it surprises me because I know the clear teaching of Romans 13 on the subject:
For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 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 13:1-7 (ESV)
But then again, the failure to pay taxes should be no surprise because I know the logic of the “cash under the table” crowd – first of all, sending money to the government “is a waste”. The bureaucrats in Washington squander money left and right. And even more than that, so much of the money goes to ungodly uses, i.e. abortion, restrictions on religious freedoms, etc.
But then again, as many have said before me, if we think our government is wasteful and wicked, then consider the Roman government in Paul’s day. It was far worse. And yet…Paul still paid the full tax.
Now there is a powerful lesson in all this: I once knew a man who had very flourishing ministry – still does today. And yet, when I got to know him some years ago, I would have had to say that he had, well..issues. Back in the day, his anger was sometimes off the charts, going all the way from cussing out a subordinate…to giving a server in a restaurant a piece of his mind that he couldn’t afford to lose. And yet, as I’ve indicated, God used him…and quite powerfully. Many came to Christ through his ministry.
Then I stop and think about me. Obviously, I have issues too, albeit different than this man; but then, if I may, you’ve got your issues too. And yet, how about that – God uses all of us too.
The lesson? Well, first, we need governments, and they will always be flawed. So God calls us to support them by paying what we legally owe. But more than that, we need each other. And we ourselves will always be flawed. But God also works through very flawed people. The cynical among us might say, “Well, after all, what choice does He really have?” And there’s truth to that point, but I think we are rightly led to think about this in a different way:
His choice to use flawed individuals and institutions is a prime example…of His glorious grace.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 8: Romans 14