Honor to Whom Honor is Due
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the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants,
busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom
taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is
due, honor to whom honor is due." -Romans 13: 6-7
Nobody likes paying taxes. Despite the frequent cries
of patriotism and love of country found in our nation,
rarely does anyone seem all that happy to see the tax
man arrive in their lives. And this is understandable.
We work for our money, we want to keep it. Further we
see evidence of governmental waste and corruption, and
the notion of chipping in our fair share seems even less
appealing. But if you think the taxation policy is
rough now, you should have lived in Paul's days. The
tea party's collective heads would have exploded! In
those days tax collectors, native souls under contract
of the Roman government, would collect taxes in each
province. These tax collectors had a quote from the
empire to be met, but basically whatever they could
collect over that quota was theirs to keep. So you can
imagine the corruption, intimidation and abuse this
system engendered. People were taxed into poverty.
Today we are upset the poor are untaxed.
And yet, Paul tells the Roman church to pay its taxes.
Why? The reason is simple. He did not want Christians
to become insurgents. He did not want the religion to
become known for what it was against rather than what it
is for. And this is an important point if we zoom out a
bit. Our faith should never be defined by what we are
against. We may be against lots of things, but being
against things is not Christianity. Being for
something, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is what we
are about. We may complain against the government, and
historically we have even resisted governments, but
resistance never begins until that whom we are for,
Christ, is legitimately threatened. As long as we can
practice our faith, and the rules of the land do not
cause us to directly contradict that faith, we are to be
satisfied with the government. And we are to pay our
taxes. See, who says the Bible isn't practical?
Prayer: Holy God, help me to have a faithful view of my
government and nation. Help me to always see it as subservient to
the God of all creation, and to engage it as a follower of Jesus
Christ. Help me to remain faithful to Christ in all things; it is
in his name that I pray. Amen.
[Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]