Friday, February 19, 2016

Tax Time

April 15 is fast approaching. Federal income tax filing must be done on or prior to that date, I suppose you already knew that unless you're a scoff law, tax protester or something called a "sovereign citizen". Most of these will end up in prison due to their special status as non-contributors, but I digress.

The fact is that we have to pay our taxes. It's the price of civilization, limited liberty, public sanitation and studies concerning the endangered red wing butt biter and gobi headed dung teaser; both so important to our continuing survival on earth. 

Jesus was asked about paying tax to Rome in His day. He was all for it, even though many had issues with supporting the Roman Empire. Never mind that the Romans brought running water, sewers and paved roads to Palestine. They were stepping on other things considered absolute by many Judeans and so they would look for ways and people that would support them and lead them to victory over those that wanted clean water and safe travel, but again I digress. The Romans were a mixed bag of tyrannies and freedoms that worked well for centuries, much like the modern American empire of today.

Anyhow, Jesus was approached by some close to the political and spiritual leadership of His day to ask Him about paying tax to Rome. The conversation went something like this.

Matthew 22:15-22
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Ya, it was supposed to be a trap. The Jews of the time were trying to manipulate him into saying subversive things that would force the Romans to deal with Him. It did not work. We give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. That certainly makes sense. That which is Caesar's is stamped with his image. 

So what is stamped with God's image? What is it that we give to God?

Genesis 1:26, 27

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:7
Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

So it is us. We are to give to God that which is stamped with His image - ourselves.

How do we do this? We give of our time, our talent and our treasure in service to Him as our Creator. He is the one that endowed us the ability to create and to love and to choose in our own fashion, much as He has always done. We are like our Father before us, so we should conform ourselves to His image and give back to Him as our Creator.

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