1.) We only give to Him once a year…or so
So I’m not necessarily talking about money here (but-oh the possibilities if I were). I’m talking about our time, our resources, our hopes, our futures, our reputation, our esteem, our lives etc, etc…
And okay, maybe we do it more than once a year. But is that what makes us a Christian? Is it going to church? Is it serving the poor? Helping our neighbors? Advocating for the weak and down-trodden? Leading lives of holiness? Constantly giving glory to God? All of these at the same time? Maybe?
Point being: Christianity is not a one-time gig, it is not a label, it is not a box we check. It is a way of life and inasmuch it demands all of our lives. Not just one day a year…or so.
Do we treat our relationship with God like a once-in-a-while deal, making sure we pay our dues? Or is it an all-consuming passion? Is it the center of our lives? Or just an part of them?
2.) Our giving is usually a result of obligation rather than gratitude
All too often, we give to our faith begrudgingly. Again, I’m not just talking about money here. But everything we give to God seems to come with an iron fist. We read Scriptures and roll our eyes: “Here you go again, God. Demanding my cash, my time, this or that ethical consideration… but you’ve got eternal life to hold over my head, so I guess I better ante-up.”
What if we gave to God out of gratitude for what He’s done for us? What if our posture in life was one of perpetual thankfulness towards Him rather than treating Him like our neighborhood-unfriendly IRS agent?
3.) We demand a return
How ticked are you when you get your taxes back and find out there’s no tax return? Maybe about as mad as when you give to God and find that there’s no reward coming your way? Maybe?
This seems to be the epidemic of the American church today. We’ve somehow got it in our mind that following a Savior who’s life ended on a cross ought to bring us prosperity, and bring it now. Why? “Cause we’re American, duh. And we gave Him something so what’s He giving us? Where’s all those heavenly treasures I was promised!? ” The cruel irony of this is that God has given us everything, everything for us to discard in exchange for fleeting passions and desires.
What if there is a return and we can’t see it? Better yet, what if there wasn’t? Would we still choose God? What if God wants something more from His people than to be treated like a vending machine? What if the root of faith in God is an uninhibited love for God despite any consequences?
4.) We desperately attempt to minimize our payments
The question for us is never: “How can I give more to Christ?” but rather: “What’s the most I can get away with and still be off the eternal burn list??” And it exhibits itself in different ways: “How little can I tithe? How often can I miss church? How often can I avoid the injustices around me? How often can I skip over Bible passages that make me feel uncomfortable? How much of myself can I keep intact?”
What if we tried to maximize our payments to God and minimize our own savings? What if we looked at our relationship with Him not as a small part of our life but the purpose around which our entire life evolves?
5.) We always miss the point
Taxes help the government run. Taxes provide for our safety, comfort and well-being. Is the government perfect? No. Can taxes be a burden? Yes. But if we ever drive on a highway, need to call the police, send a letter or visit a National Park then we reap the benefits the taxes we pay.
On a grander scale, God is not a burden nor are His demands. But rather Jesus promised us that His yoke is easy and the burden he asks us to carry is light (Matthew 11:30). Why? Because He already took the burden; He already paid the cost. Too often we think that somehow our faith is a tax towards a heavenly, feudal king who has conquered us and now demands retribution. But it’s the exact opposite. Rather, in the words of Jim Elliot, he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Offering up our lives in constant sacrifice to God is an acknowledgement of the One who loved us all so much that He couldn’t bear not to reveal Himself to us and give Himself up for us.
I get that this analogy if far from perfect. And don’t miss the point of this article: I am not advocating for our government here; I am advocating for the reformation of our faith in God.
Because three days from now is Good Friday. On that day, we will commemorate the fact that Jesus paid all the taxes that were hanging over our head. On that day, we commemorate the fact that Jesus gave all he had, spiritually, physically and emotionally so that we might be free to love and worship Him. On that day, any offering we can bring to the table is nothing compared to the heavenly riches Christ disowned in order to come to us. Nothing we can or ever will give compares to what He already gave.
Pay your taxes today. Afterwards, pay your tribute to the Risen King who paid yours for you. Give to your government what belongs to them and then give to God what belongs to Him.
Give Him everything.