I will make a confession, though . . . so many think that because I am teaching these things, that I perfectly follow my instructions. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have to learn some lessons on this myself. I remember the first time I had to pay an income tax. My income had been so low for so long that I never had to pay any taxes. However, as my income grew, I finally had to pay. I remember how much I resented it. I really did! In fact, when I sent my tax form in I addressed it to “The Infernal Revenue Service.” No, they never answered, although they did accept the money! The next year, I had improved my attitude a bit. I addressed it to “The Eternal Revenue Service.” But I have matured in my walk with the Lord I still hold many negative thoughts about paying taxes and have to repent from some of my attitudes. I hope someday I will be able to pay my taxes cheerfully. I want to reach the point where I am able to send it off with thanksgiving to God for the government that we have—bad as it is in many ways.
I do not hold up any defense for the gross injustices that prevail in our American system, especially with our current administration. But the very fact that we can gather each Sunday mroning and don’t have to hide behind closed doors, the very fact that we have relative freedom from attack when we walk about is due to the existence of a government that God has brought into being. I want to make every effort I can, as a good citizen, to improve it and to see that it does things better. But we should just thank God for the privilege of paying our taxes. This is what the apostle is after. He wants us to have a different attitude than the world around us about things like this. We are not to come on with gimlet-eyed fanaticism, attacking the government and trying to overthrow it because it does not behave quite the way we think it should. Instead, we are to understand that God has brought it into being, and he will change it if the hearts of the people of the land warrant that.
As a wise man said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” So as painful as it is to say, we need to pay our taxes, so let’s do it cheerfully. Remember as Paul says, not only we are to pay our taxes, but if we owe respect, we are to give that; if honor, give that. Never forget that the worst of governments are, nevertheless, better than anarchy, and serve certain functions which God himself has ordained.
So we need to respond as Christians, with cheerfulness and gladness for what we can do under God, and we need to do so in such an attitude that people will see that there is something different about us. Thus we commend ourselves to God and the people around. Thus endeth the reading of the lesson: Pay your taxes.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome