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It’s Tax Day!

Well, in the morning it will be the middle of April – the 15th of the month. And we all know what that means! Our tax returns are due to the government. Well, in some cases, like here in Indiana, we owe taxes to both federal and state governments. Most years, I don’t think about things too early, but this year we, the members of the Toussaint clan, had our paperwork together earlier than usual and had it submitted to our accountant way more than a month ago.

There are some changes to the process of working on our tax returns this year and that has been somewhat stressful. Al, who has worked with Janet and me for more than 42 years, changed firms this past year and we are having to build a relationship with the new folks. What has become a study in consistency is suddenly new and different and has taken a little bit of a toll on all of us, I’m sure.

However, I think we are good to go and after Monday, it will all be in the rearview mirror until next year. Well, that isn’t exactly true. Our corporate year end was March 31st and so Al will have to start working on the business returns. It seems the older we get, the more complicated tax time becomes. We are at the age that we are drawing from retirement savings and we don’t want to run the risk of getting thrown into a higher tax bracket than necessary. I can’t remember a time throughout the years when fiscal management has become so important. I thought things were supposed to get easier!

Governments have been around for thousands of years. It is thought that the first governments came about when groups of people thought that it was safer to band together and appoint or elect some members of the group to have more power than others; thereby putting them in charge of  attending to the needs of the entire community. Of course, collecting taxes became a part of the function of governments. Infrastructure, including roads and things such as first responders, became part of the fiscal realities of people living together. We still see examples of enhanced infrastructure even today. However, social programs and many other initiatives are also funded by our tax base.

In all honesty, I believe that if the church today was doing its best job taking care of the people around us, para-church organizations wouldn’t even be necessary. This very topic came up in my oral defense of my first doctorate… in fact, it was kind of a scary comment to make in front of a group of pastors who were in charge of carrying out the commands of Jesus and His admonishment to love one another as God loves us. But, as I found out, my sincerity and authenticity were well received and I was finally able to be welcomed into the group of those who carry the title of Doctor of Ministry.

Jesus was asked about His thoughts on governments and taxes. The Pharisees had set a trap for Jesus and asked Him whether it was proper to pay taxes. Jesus admonishes them for trying to trap Him and questions them as to whose picture was on the coin of the realm. Admitting that it was Caesar’s image, we now get to our verse of the night. In one of the most famous verses in the Bible, Matthew gives us the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:21-22, “Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.” We are told in the Scripture that while humans occupy positions of authority in governments, we are to obey those whom we have elected to attend to the needs of the entire group.

My encouragement this evening is that governments were instituted by God and we are to be obedient to the government. It would be good of us to remember that mandate in this world of such animosity and hatred for our political “enemies.” My prayer is that we will eventually become a kinder, gentler country and while honest debate is good and generally elevates everyone, it is destructive when our sole intent is to quash opposition so that we can have our own way to the detriment of others. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… and may you get a big refund!

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