Warning: This is a lengthy post. Kindly take time to read and digest everything. You may share your insights as well. 🙂
Now that the deadline for filing and payment of the annual income tax is fast approaching, let me share to you what I realized from reading this bible passage below:
After Jesus and His disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay temple tax?”
“Yes, He does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” He asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes – from their own sons or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” –Matthew 17:24-27
When you bring the issue of taxation on the table, people start grumbling. I know, everyone of us dread taxes. Today, it seems everything revolves around taxes. An ordinary person who buys something from the department store will usually shoulder the value-added tax passed on by the seller. Businesses are taxed on their income and sales. Withholding taxes are imposed on an ordinary employee’s compensation. Taxes are even collected from properties of the living and the dead! The list can go on and on. And nowadays, when you watch the news, you will learn that the Bureau of Internal Revenue is very much active and aggressive in assessing and reminding taxpayers of their duties. Even famous personalities are not exempt from the bureau’s actions.
I have experienced working in an auditing firm and so I have an idea on the corporate tax practices of some companies. It’s true that one can bend the rules, but one can’t break the law. And you can’t escape it. (Or maybe you can, but never in God’s eyes!) However, it is very disappointing to hear people breaking the law just because everyone’s doing it. And what grieves me more is the fact that you know what you ought to do but you do not do it.
Maybe you’ll find it unfair to pay the correct amount of taxes because corrupt government officials would only steal those and use it for their pleasures, so might as well do some magic in your records and pay a less amount. But remember, there is no difference between a person who steals money owned by another from a person who remits an incorrect amount of money. Just as a person who tells a lie and a person who withholds the truth are the same.
Or maybe, you’ll say that if you pay the correct amount of taxes, there will be nothing more left for you and your employees. But what if you get caught? Having the business closed for non-compliance is a very much greater problem to deal with. You lose your livelihood and your employees lose their jobs.
I did not write this to impose guilt on you. And I am in no position to put the blame on others. The truth is everyone is already judged as guilty because of our sins. As you delve deeper, the issue on non-remittance/incorrect remittance of taxes does not only deal with morality. It exposes a deep spiritual struggle within us that none of us can solve.
Taxes can be traced from thousands of years back. During the time of Jesus, people were already paying their taxes. But note in the scriptures that even Jesus paid His taxes! He is already God and yet because He was also a human being living in this world, He respected the governing law by following it, not because it was a burden to Him but out of His loving relationship with the Father, a relationship that He also wants to extend to each of us.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”- Romans 13:1-2
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”-John 15:9-11
More importantly, Jesus provided for the payment of taxes. It is noteworthy that Jesus instructed Peter to take a four-drachma coin from the first fish he’ll catch and pay it to the authorities. Now, this should all encourage us! 🙂
Just like the provision for payment of taxes, God already gave the ultimate solution for the main problem in our society that is sin. While we were still sinners, He provided for the atonement of the sins of the world out of His unfailing, unchanging and unending love. He gave Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to save us from our sins and give us everlasting life.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”-John 3:16-17
I wrote this to share with you what I have learned and for us to encourage one another to have an eternal perspective. This is very difficult but with God’s grace, we can. And having eternity in mind results from staying connected to Jesus. We must not be short-sighted but rather, ask God for His wisdom to base our day-to-day decisions from maintaining that perspective. After all, this world is our temporary residence. Eternity is what’s more important. That’s why, we must invest not on temporary pleasures but on everlasting treasures.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”- Colossians 3:1-3
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you…”- I Peter 1:3-4
“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