Archive for September 25th, 2019

Romans 13:6-9

In Romans 13:6-9 Paul begins by tackling one of my least favorite subject – the matter of taxes. Jesus had previously weighed in when He said ‘render to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s’ but Paul goes a little further. Like it or not, there is a sense in which we support God’s work when we do so. “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.” We are to give to the state the money, honor, and proper reverence which are due to the state, all the while reserving our right to give to God that which is due to God alone. These are not in conflict, but God’s design is that we have enough for both the government taxes and our tithing to God and His work.

Some may think that cutting corners or even lying to reduce taxes paid is ok. Paul is clear that is not how we should act. “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” In light of this, is rebellion against government and their tax system ever justified? If a citizen has a choice between two governments, it is right to choose and to promote the one that is most legitimate in God’s eyes – the one which will best fulfill God’s purpose for governments. But it isn’t right to cheat the government we are under authority to.

Paul goes on to give us instruction on how to live with our neighbors. He gets personal with his instruction – the only “debt” we are to carry is the “debt” to love one another – this is a perpetual obligation we carry both before God and each other. “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Paul is not talking about whether or not we can or should borrow from one another. Scripture warns in other places about the danger and obligations of borrowing. But here Paul gives us direction around the one thing we can never truly complete – the command to love one another. That charge can never be fulfilled.

Paul reinforces what Jesus had given to His Twelve as the second commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself. It means we are to love the people we actually meet with and deal with every day. It is easy for us to love in the theoretical and the abstract, but God demands that we love real people. “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is easy to do all the right religious “things” but to neglect love. Our love is the true measure of our obedience to God. And that love needs to be focused on God, and on those in our patch!

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