We are getting quite near to the deadline for filing income taxes in the United States. While this season might be beneficial for those who make their money preparing tax returns and for those who receive a refund, it is a season of dread for those who owe money for taxes.
Very few people enjoy paying taxes; nevertheless, it is the responsibility of every Christian to do so (Romans 13:7). The money may not all go to programs which we may like, and we may find certain taxes less than fair, but God still declares that we must pay our taxes. We must pay our dues– if we enjoy having roads upon which to drive, protection through police forces and fire departments, and a host of other services provided through the government, we need to pay for them!
Such taxes are our dues to the United States, state, and local governments. But are we also paying our dues for the Kingdom of God?
In the days of Jesus, the religious authorities collected taxes from the people to sustain the Temple and the priests. Even though it was not strictly necessary for Him to do so, Jesus paid the half-shekel Temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27; cf. Exodus 30:11-16). Many also provided additional funds for incense and sacrifices (cf. Mark 12:41-44). Beyond this, there was the tithe, or ten percent for God and the Levites (Leviticus 27:30-32).
God established these taxes and dues not because He Himself could not provide for them (Psalm 50:12), but because He expected Israel to return some of the blessings He gave them so that they could be used for His purposes. Israel enjoyed the blessings and prosperity God gave them; in return, they could provide for the Temple and the Levites and for incense and sacrifices!
In the new covenant with Jesus Christ, enacted under better promises (Hebrews 8:6), God has not specified a particular amount that should be given for His purposes. Nevertheless, God certainly expects Christians to pay their dues!
Christians have obtained the blessing of redemption from sin and reconciliation with God through the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1, Romans 3-5). They have the blessing of association with fellow believers and the opportunity to assemble with one another for encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25). They have been entrusted with the message of salvation to promote to all men, and God has made sure that men with the ability to promote that truth and encourage both believer and unbeliever are within His Church (Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:11-18).
If Christians enjoy these blessings, among a multitude of others, should they not provide for God’s purposes? If they have benefited from the message of salvation, should they not pay their dues to have that message promoted? If God has given to them, should they not give to others?
Such is precisely God’s intention. The preaching of the Gospel and its evangelists are to be supported by Christians (1 Corinthians 9:7-14). Christians are to give to those in need, both believers and unbelievers (Galatians 2:10, 6:10). The support of evangelism, the needs of the saints, and the building up of the local congregation was provided by Christians laying aside on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 2 Corinthians 8-9).
We are in the midst of difficult economic times. If we do not pay our dues to the government, the IRS comes after us. If we do not pay our dues toward God, there may be no immediate consequence, but will God be pleased? God loves the cheerful giver, and reminds His people that those who give sparingly reap sparingly (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Let us continue to pay our dues so that we may be blessed by God!