Friday, February 2, 2018

Christians and Taxes

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing" (Romans 13:6).

It is a matter of conscience for the Christian to pay taxes. God has appointed government for our well-being, and government employees are to be paid. The revenue for this is to come from taxation. After all, governments do not produce anything. They exist for the welfare of the public.

Even in the ancient world government officials were considered ministers of the public good. The object of this ministry is not to line the pockets of the rulers, and rulers are not to exploit the people; instead, ministers are to serve God and the people. This is a noble undertaking.

Fallen man rarely sees the value of teaching, preaching, and public service. Therefore in these areas God legislates to ensure that these important services to mankind are taken care of. He thus imposes the obligation of the tithe in the Old Testament and permits the civil magistrate to collect taxes. As a Christian you are called to support the ministry of the church and the work of the state.

In the Scriptures these are the only two official groups the people are to support. Everyone else is to be taken care of through the marketplace and through private charity. The Bible teaches that tithes are to be paid to the church to support the ecclesiastical ministry, and that taxes are to be paid to support the civil ministry. Paul summarizes our obligation to pay taxes in verse 7: “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

Income taxes are very controversial in our time. The controversy surrounds both the extent of today’s income taxes and also the form these taxes take. This is an ethical problem Christians need to address. Justice must be administered that satisfies both the rich and the poor. But the basal obligation Paul gives us is to pay our taxes.

When it comes to paying one’s due, honesty is the issue. It is sometimes difficult to understand the IRS tax laws, but the Bible is most specific: God requires a minimum of 10 percent of your income. Both church and government could operate more effectively if people honestly paid their portion. Have you been honest before God and man to pay your tithe and tax?