When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” (Mt. 17:24)
A rather heated discussion of taxes – sales, income, city, state, you name it, was going on at the next table.
All of a sudden, a young voice chipped in with “I don’t pay any tax!”
A quick answer came back. “Well, it’s a good thing the rest of us do. Why, taxes pay for services and things we all need.”
The young man thought a minute. “Well, I wonder then,” he ventured, “about that ten percent the Bible talks about. I mean, don’t we all need God? Don’t we all need to know about Jesus? And, don’t we all need church because we’re supposed to lean on each other and help each other? Isn’t that ten percent supposed to support all that? That’s a lot for just ten percent. Don’t you guys pay more than that for these taxes you’re talking about? Seems to me what we get from, well, call it ‘church tax’ if you want, lasts a whole lot longer than anything we get from all those other taxes.”
Thus launched a rather interesting discussion of what a “tax” really is.
A woman, obviously exhausted from work, stopped by the table. “I’ll tell you what’s taxing”, she added to the mix, “work is taxing!”
They all looked up at her.
“Yeah,” she continued, “ever think that the tax you’re talking about isn’t just money? What taxes your time? This young man’s got something there. Ever let God tax your time? I mean, the government takes it off the top, right? Can’t easily get out of the store without paying tax, and just try not paying that April 15 tax – oh yeah, right! So, how about giving God that 10 percent – right off the top – money, time, you name it. Now THAT time might just grow on you!”
And with that, she said goodbye and left, a new spring in her step.
Silence fell over the table.
Four men sat looking at the door after she left. “Never thought of it that way,” one finally said. “Yep, seems like the church does a whole lot more with a whole lot less than the government ever did. I’m really thinking about that.”
The young man spoke up again. “I’m gonna do more than think and talk. I’m gonna DO. I figure God gives 100 percent; the least I can do is 10 percent.” And he got up, waved at the other three, and left.
That made me think. And think. As it should all of us. How many of us give God what’s left (if there IS anything left) after we’ve taken care of everything else?
God gave – and gives – off the top. God gave his most precious son.
What if God gave us what was left, if there was anything? Oh my. You know, in many ways we’re just like the “foreigners” Jesus spoke about. In many ways, a God-centered, Jesus-centered life is foreign to us.
Let’s think about this together. When you think of your “to-do” list for the day, does prayer or read scripture go at the top?
When you plan your vacation, do you say to yourself, “Now I’ll have some more time with God!” Or is it more like, “Later, God, later I’ll have time for You.”
But does later REALLY ever come – that often?
How about spending one morning a week in church?
Let’s see, four hours out of perhaps out of 84 (or more) waking hours in your week is about 4.7 percent of your time. Why that leaves another 5.3 percent for prayer, Bible study and getting equipped to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever you go.
And the young man was right, you know. “Church tax” is so much more joy-filled, fulfilling and much longer lasting. How about it? I know, it might be a big priority shift, but there are many of us growing into living a church-tax life. Won’t you join us? How about this week?