Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…A taxing day
Today is April 15 and though due to the Covid pandemic we have for the second year in a row been given a reprieve for another month, this date has become synonymous with taxes in our country. Federal taxes have been due on this date since 1955. Prior to that it had been one month earlier on March 15th going all the way back to 1918, but for better than a half-century now April 15th has been known as a very taxing day. I don’t know of anyone who likes taxes aside from those who collect them, they never seem to have a problem with it, but then who doesn’t like spending someone else’s money. Since 1943 the federal government has been withholding taxes due from each paycheck issued to an employee. I agree with Dave Ramsey when he says that taxes could never be as high as they are if a tax collector was physically present on every payday and people had to take cash from their recently received paycheck and hand it over to be given to the government.
This is not a rail against taxes. I understand their necessity to fund government, though I may not agree with all of the choices made as to how my taxes are dispersed. This is more about who we are, and how we operate, than it is about who the government is, and how they operate. Taxes are a very interesting thing. I calculate my own income taxes every year, I have done so since my first filing back in 1984. I don’t think that makes me smarter, faster, better than those who have theirs professionally filed for them, in fact those folks may think it makes me dumber, slower, worse. It is possible that there have been times when I have paid more than I had to, because I filed my own taxes, but I just enjoy the challenge. I like having to gather all the pertinent information and see how low I can get my tax burden each year. I think I do pretty well over all. One of the things that interest me though is the overriding view of much of the public when it comes to filing taxes. Many people who I know generally speaking to be fair and honest, don’t mind seeing where they can fudge on their taxes. Some of them even ‘brag’ in hushed voices to others about how they ‘got over on the government’ by adjusting the numbers and avoiding the total tax. For some reason, though they might claim to be honest in all their other dealings, it is justifiable to them to cheat the government.
As Christ followers we are called to a higher standard. Jesus himself said to give to Caesar what was Caesar’s though His real point was that if we owe taxes to the government who made the money how much more do we owe our lives to the One who created us. God’s Word does speak more directly to the point in Romans 13:5-7 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Here, we are instructed to give to the government in authority over us the taxes that are required. I find the more interesting part of this to be in verse 5. There it says that we are to do this not because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t so much as because of our conscience…in other words because it is the right thing to do.
What is your integrity worth? Really. How much money would someone have to give you for you to be willing to never be trusted or believed again…as long as you lived. You might say, “Pastor Ken, it’s just a little fudging of the numbers, I’m not giving up my ability to be trusted or believed”. Perhaps not, but integrity – having a truthful character – is either something we possess or we don’t. If we decidedly cheat on one thing we have compromised our integrity no matter how many other things we choose not to cheat on.
Proverbs 10:9 says He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known. When we hold integrity at a premium in our lives, we never worry about being found out, but it is in the areas we have stretched the truth (or tried to shrink it) that God’s word says we should be worried about, because those things will become known and expose us as one without integrity. Proverbs 28:6 goes on to say Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich. There are times when having integrity means a smaller return, but one that will never try to steal a moments rest from you. Finally, in Titus chapter two some instructions are being given to the church body as to how Christ followers ought to behave in the world around them. Verses 7 and 8 read as follows; in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
I know, none of us is perfect, I certainly don’t mean to give the idea I think I am…I and anyone who knows me knows that isn’t the case. But we are supposed to be in the process of being perfected. God is supposed to be increasing in us as we find ourselves decreasing. People should be seeing more of Him and less of us when interacting with us. So, I ask again. What is your integrity worth?
Having Integrity always makes us rich in character even if it means that as a result on tax day sometimes it leaves us poorer in cash. What’s in your wallet?
So now, walking in the surety of integrity that shows you to follow the One full of integrity and righteousness…Go be awesome!