|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
One thing I love about the Word of God (and there are so many things I love about it!) is that it is always relevant to my life. It is a living Book, which always contains just what I need. My questions are answered. My spiritual batteries are recharged. My understanding is enlightened. And even my day-to-day issues are addressed.
Have you noticed that about God's Word also? What a wonderful God we serve! And I am so very thankful for the gift of His Word. Truly it is a joy and a blessing to be taking this journey through it this year! And I'm glad you've decided to join me! The reading from today puts us a little over half way through the journey of reading the Bible through in this year.
Well, today, I would like to point out one of the day-to-day-living kinds of things which is addressed in God's relevant word. It is found in Mark 12:14-17. And it deals with the subject of whether or not God's people should pay taxes.
The religious leaders had especially formulated this tax question with the intent to trap Christ. Either answer would have caused some to reject Him. It might have even gotten Yahshua in trouble with the government. If Yahshua had said, "Yes, you need to pay your taxes to Caesar," many of the Jews would have have been offended and stopped following Him. They wanted a Messiah who would overthrow what they considered to be the illegitimate Roman government. Being a good, tax paying citizen meant that you were accepting Rome's governance, which they were not prepared to do. However, if Yahshua had said, "No, you don't need to pay your taxes to Caesar," it would have put Him at odds with the government.
The Pharisees must have rubbed their hands together in evil glee, anticipating Yahshua's response. Of course, they hoped to get Yahshua into trouble. This was the whole point in asking their carefully crafted question.
Mark 12:14-17 "And when they were come, they say unto Him, Master, we know that Thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye Me? bring Me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Yahshua answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at Him."In other words, Christ was saying that if you're using the money issued by the government, you are reaping the rewards of that government. And while you are using the government issued funds, you should respond by paying the government required taxes. And in this amazing and wise response, the Saviour not only eluded the Pharisee's trap, He also gives us some Heavenly council for our own family finances. Christians should pay their taxes.
Similarly, the Apostle Paul taught, "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" (Romans 13:6-7).
Much like the Jews in Christ's day, taxes aren't popular today either. April 15, tax day, is one of the most stressful days of the year in the United States. And the Internal Revenue Service is probably the most despised government organization. In fact, most Americans probably feel about the IRS much the same as the Jews did the tax collectors in Bible times (Matthew 11:19; 21:31-32; Luke 3:12-13).
As much as we dislike taxes and the whole system that requires so much—the Bible commands, yes, commands us to live as good citizens, who not only keep the laws of the land (subordinate to God's Law of course) but also render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar by paying our taxes.
Romans 13:1-7 makes it clear that we are to submit ourselves under authority, in the home, in the Body of Christ, in the place of employment, and yes to the government. The only instance in which we are allowed to disobey the government is when it tells us to do something the Bible forbids. The Bible does not forbid paying taxes. In fact, the Bible encourages us to pay taxes.
Calling ourselves Christian means we're followers of Christ. Thus, perhaps the most compelling reason for paying taxes is that Christ Himself tells us to do it.
The most frequent objection to paying taxes is that the money is being misused by the government or even used for evil purposes by the government. The Jews used the same argument for excusing themselves from paying Roman taxes. The Roman government was pagan, corrupt, and didn't always use the funds for righteous purposes. But in spite of this, Yahshua said, "Give to Caesar...," what was due. When Paul instructed us to pay taxes, Nero, the most evil Roman emperor in history, was the head of the government. This tells us that we are to pay our taxes even when the government is not God-honoring.
Rebellion against authority is not part of following Christ. The true Christian should be a model citizen.
Romans 13:2 reminds us, "Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."
Daniel and his friends did not always go with the government rules. However, they only said, "no" to government commands when those commands went against the Word of God. And even when they had to say "no", they did it respectfully. It's amazing to read (as we already have when we read Daniel 1:9), how the prince of the eunuchs loved and favored Daniel. People don't love and favor someone who uses God as an excuse for their "I'm-holier-than-you" or "I'm- better-than-you" attitude. Rather Daniel was humble, gentle, loving, obedient, and easy to get along with. Hence, the prince of the eunuchs "loved" Daniel, long before he had to ask for special favors with the food.
May we be a blessing, as was Daniel and Yahshua, in the eyes of those in authority over us. This is one of the most powerful witnesses. And it is what true Christians are called to be like - even in the subject of paying taxes.