Honoring God with your taxes

Squeezing one more drop

At tax time, it can feel like the IRS is squeezing out the last drop of our hard-earned income. There’s a story told about a fitness center. This fitness center owner was offering $1,000 to anyone who could prove that they were stronger than he was. Here’s how it worked: the owner of the fitness center was a real muscle man, and he would take a lemon and squeeze it until all the juice had run into a glass. He’d then hand the lemon to the challenger. Anyone who could squeeze just one more drop of juice out, would win the money. Many people tried overtime – weight lifters, construction workers – even professional wrestlers but no-one could get another drop of juice out of that lemon.

One day a short, skinny guy came in and signed up for the contest. Amid the laughs and snickers of the crowd, the owner grabbed a lemon and squeezed the juice out of it and handed it to the scrawny looking man. The man clenched his fist around the lemon, squeezed, and six more drops of juice fell into the glass. Everybody went silent, the owner paid out the money and then asked him, “Are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, or what?” The man picked up his money, walked to the door and said, “No. None of those. I work for Internal Revenue.”

Are you dreading paying taxes?

Isn’t that about how we feel when tax season comes around? Everyone dreads paying out taxes. Some look for all the loop holes to get out paying. Maybe you’re even looking in the Bible for something that says God is against taxes. Well, Jesus has a word about paying taxes, but you probably won’t like it.

Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Denarius coin with Caesar
Denarius coin with Caesar

The Pharisees plotted against Jesus, trying to find someway to trip Him up and make Him seem less credible to the people. So they asked Him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But the question is a trap. If Jesus said yes, then it would appear that He supported the Roman occupation, but if He said no then He would be guilty of treason. But Jesus knew exactly what they were trying to do. So He responded, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” They showed him a denarius coin. Jesus asked, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They responded with “Caesar’s”. Jesus told them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Taxes are a government mandate and a Citizen responsibility

Just as our churches do not operate without the support of our tithe, our governments do not operate without the support of our taxes. Paying taxes is a government mandate, and a citizen responsibility. The Bible is clear that Christians are to be subject to human authorities, including federal, state, and civil governments unless it goes directly against God’s laws, because Acts 5:29 says, “We ought to obey God rather than man.” 

However, as Jesus faced down the Pharisee’s trap, He made it clear that paying taxes does not go against God’s laws. If we were to ask Jesus the same question today, His response might be something like, “Render unto the IRS what is due to the IRS and to God what is due to God.” And this is why whoever you are, no matter how little or how much you make, you are to pay your taxes and to do so honestly.

Pay taxes and sin not

There are honest and legitimate deductions we can make as we prepare our tax return that puts a little more money in our pockets and less in the governments. When those are true deductions, there is nothing wrong in claiming them. However, if we cheat or lie about them, then we’ve sinned against God and broken two of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not lie” and “Thou shalt not steal.” You might say, “But wait! That’s my money. I earned it. How is it stealing?” If that portion of your income is tax and belongs to the government, but you keep it for yourself, then you’re stealing. We are to render to the government what is due to them.

Render what is due to the IRS and what is due to God

Not only are we to render what is due to the IRS, but we are also to render what is due to God. That means our tithes and offerings, our love, our thanks, our prayers, our worship, our devotion, our gifts and talents, our time, and our submission. Malachi 3:8 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me!”

Attitudes towards taxes and tithes

The Bible also has something to say about our attitudes towards taxes and tithes. Philippians 2:14 says that we are to do all things without complaining – that includes taxes and tithing. But for tithing, not only are we to not complain about it, but we should also give joyfully. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” We should give our tithe with joy because of all God has provided for us. We should give our tithe with joy because the church uses our tithe for the work, ministry, and missions God has called it to do. Thankfully, we do not have to pay our taxes with joy – we just are not to complain about it and we are to have integrity when filing them.

The government withholds money each payday that goes towards our taxes. What are you withholding from God? When you complete your tax return have you done so with a clear conscious, with honesty and integrity? When we honor God with our money, God will honor us and see that we have all that we need.


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