I don’t know anyone who looks forward to paying income taxes. But, here we are again, finishing the week-end just ahead of Tax Day 2018. Taxes are due on Tuesday, April 17th this year because the 15th falls on Sunday (the normal tax day deadline) and April 16th is Emancipation Day. For those of you who haven’t heard of this official holiday in Washington, D.C., it is the annual celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves in Washington, D.C. back on April 16, 1862. Each freed person was entitled to $300 during the emancipation process. That annual official holiday event, started in 2005, now occurs each April 16th and can delay Tax Day if the 15th falls on a week-end.
It’s difficult to think about taxes without thinking about the government. Never before in my lifetime have I ever seen people so polarized over our government and the various political factions that are working at odds with each other. The rhetoric that we have observed on both sides of the political aisle has reduced civility to a heretofore unknown level, probably even surpassing the political acrimony in the mid-1800’s, including people such as Andrew Jackson.
It’s not uncommon to see tweets with the reference to a “slime ball” or some other equally derogatory comment. And certainly the other side is no better. At every turn, we see law suits, special prosecutors and divisive debate in Congress – all intent on waging war on the other party and seeing each side wanting to win at any cost. National pride is lacking and people don’t seem to hesitate to get down in the mud and push each other to limits that go beyond what I would have ever expected from our leaders. In fact, we have seen members of Congress decide to retire and not run for re-election – based largely on the way politics has become so mean-spirited.
Tax Day seems to be the time that these reprehensible disagreements are most evident to us. That’s because this week, more than any other during the year, we see our tax dollars head to the Treasury to support the economic needs of the nation. But it just makes sense that everybody should take a breath and remember that our elected leaders are ordained by God to serve the government. That’s easy to forget – especially when we disagree with the party that is currently in control.
The idea of governments, including judges, is something that God ordained thousands of years ago. As Christians, we are held to a standard that requires respect for our elected leaders – even when we don’t like them… Simply stated, we are to submit to government authority and remember that God is in control and His will is ultimately the one that will prevail.
Our verse for this evening is from Paul in his letter to the Romans. He reminds us that rulers are God’s servants and he tells us, in Romans 13:5-7, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
I know that this probably isn’t a popular verse for this evening, but sometimes being a Christ follower isn’t easy. We are to aspire to a higher standard than those who don’t believe. My encouragement this evening is that God knew what he was doing when he instituted judges and governments. My prayer is that we all will render to our government what is due and that we will abide in Christ and be faithful to our high calling in Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…