Even At Tax Time
Matthew 22:21 “…Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
A few nights ago, during a bible study, a young man asked me the following question: “Is it O.K. to list my tithes and offerings as a tax deduction?” The young man had been going back and forth on the issue, and he did not want to do anything to hinder his blessing from God.
To answer this question, let’s go to this week’s text where we see Jesus being asked, “Is it lawful to give tribute (taxes) to Caesar, or not?” In sum, Jesus replied, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Translation: “Pay your taxes, and pay your tithes and offerings.”
Of course, our Caesar is Uncle Sam, and we must pay what we owe to the government. To do so, we must complete a “yearly” report which tells “Caesar” where our money went for the year. We tell Him our mortgage interest, medical bills, travel costs, donations to organizations, and financial gifts to the church as well.
Now if our Caesar (Uncle Sam) desires to know what we gave the church and other organizations, then reporting it is really a matter of stewardship and NOT SPIRITUALITY. Let me take this thing a little further and not only use the word of God, but also use the U.S. Tax Form itself as verification. When we fill out our taxes, some of us have the option to use either standardized or itemized deductions. If you use some sort of tax software, then as you are prompted, the software will ask you to list your itemized deductions, including church contributions. Now get this. After you have entered all the deductions, the software will analyze whether it is more beneficial for YOU to use itemized or standardized deductions. Also, if you had a good, God-fearing, Bible taught Christian accountant, he/she would suggest the same for you as well.
So where is the problem? Quite honestly, the real problem lies in the partial teaching of the word of God. Without a shadow of doubt, there are some who give for the sake of deductions and nothing more. Teaching that this example is wrong is not incorrect, but we must ensure that it is not incomplete. We can not let people walk away feeling that it’s wrong to utilize a benefit because someone else decided to misuse the blessing. Also, it should be no surprise to any of us that an additional benefit (deduction) comes with the blessing (giving) because God setup the system for us to reap continual benefits and a tax deduction is only one of the benefits.
Your tithes and offerings are the vehicles, through which God can and will bless you. In other words, they can be the means and covenant through which you get BLESSED! Throughout the year, we should give our tithes because God has commanded us to do so. Then we should go beyond the tithe by giving offerings out of obedience; and because of our obedience and sacrifice, God will be faithful and do as He said He would in Malachi 3:10.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Our tithes and offerings are outward expressions of our faith. Our commitment to “giving back to God” shows God our commitment and trust in His word. Our commitment to giving also shows God that we acknowledge Him as our provider and that we believe He will always provide for our wants as well as our needs.
As long as you are giving, as we mentioned earlier, out of reverence, covenant, obedience, and faith, then you are giving as God has commanded you to give. And surely you will end up with the Blessing. But it’s the partial teaching that tells you you will surely lose the blessing; that is not so. If God has commanded us to be good stewards over little so that we can be rulers over much, then we surely can not forsake that principle for the sake of attempting to be “spiritual,” even at tax time.