Taxes and Tithes – Happy April 15th!

tax-day

Today is TAX DAY.  That means it’s time to “render unto Caesar.”  In reality many of you filed your taxes weeks ago although there are no doubt some who waited until the very end.  I filed my taxes back in February because I had been rendering unto Caesar too much and I was ready for him to render back to me!

Taxes and death are two certainties in life.  And taxes can feel like death.  One time I got in trouble.  Julie and I had been married only a couple of years and I had failed to take notice that on her pay stub nothing was being withheld for federal or state tax.  It was a “clerical error” but one I should have caught.  I was young and stupid and working full-time while studying full-time in seminary and this was a lesson from the school of hard-knocks.  Thankfully, my dad stepped in to bail me out.  It was humiliating (every kid wants to prove to his parents that he can make it on his own) and painful.  I vowed to never again be in that position.

I don’t think many people enjoy paying taxes.  Truthfully, I don’t mind paying for things that I know benefit us all as a whole.  I think police, teachers, firefighters, etc. ought to all be paid a good salary.  I think that we need a good defense, good roads, and good public services.  And I really don’t mind paying for it.  But on the federal level, there is a real sense that money is being wasted, mismanaged, and in some cases spent on things that are morally reprehensible (such as funding abortion mills like Planned Parenthood).  I don’t like giving my money to incompetency.  So yes, if I can find a way to pay less in those kinds of taxes, I will.

Enter my church.

As much as I don’t like paying taxes, I love giving my tithe.  That’s right.  I LOVE giving a full 10% of what I earn to God.  Here are a few reasons why:

  • Without God I would have nothing. This is my declaration of total dependency upon God.  Everything (and I mean everything) I have above zero is a gift from Him.
  • God has trusted me with a lot.  He expects me to take care of it.  My demonstration that I can handle this is my obedience to handle money according to His will.  God says to tithe, so I tithe.
  • My life has been enormously blessed because I tithe.  How do I know this?  Well, I used to NOT tithe.  So I’ve tried it both ways.  I can testify – tithers are blessed.  In fact, I am now fearful of not tithing!
  • God uses money that I give back far more efficiently than the government.  If you want bang for your buck, let God handle your finances – starting with the tithe.
  • Money tithed has an eternal impact.  Money taxed goes toward an ever-mounting debt.

When you put it all together, the more money I can give to God and the less I have to give to Caesar, the better off I am and this world will be.  So in addition to the tithe, I give offerings.  These are monies above and beyond my tithe.

Now here is something interesting I want you to consider.  Our tax code is written in such a way that the more money I give to God, the LESS money I have to give to Caesar.  Yes, that’s right.  Because I can deduct my charitable contribution and REDUCE my tax liability, I can have the best of both worlds.  More to the Kingdom and less to a system I am less than enthused about supporting.

So on this day…Tax Day 2013, I challenge you to consider what God has given to you.  And then consider what He has asked of you in terms of giving back.

And Jesus told them, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 

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