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Monday, October 03, 2011

Honor to Whom Honor is Due

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- "For 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]

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