Summary: A Biblical blue-print for financial management.
At the Rainbow Bird Park in Kalbarri Western Australia there are two exotic birds valued at $8000 each. They were purchased in order to commence a breeding program - only they won’t breed! That’s what I call a high risk investment.
Wealth and money holds various levels of importance to us doesn’t it. Well today we’re looking specifically at the issue of how we should go about paying the bills that impact the various areas of our lives.
I. RESPONSIBILITY TO GOD’S GENERAL WORK (THE WORLD) (Romans 13:1-8)
The Tax Office received a letter from a conscience stricken tax-payer. It read,
“Dear Sir, My conscience bothered me. Here is $175 I owe in back taxes. PS - If my conscience still bothers me I’ll send the rest.”
Tax. No one likes it, but now with the GST it effects almost every legal financial transaction we make. Perhaps it’s because Tax is so much a part of our financial life that God has expressed his opinion on it.
In fact the bible is very clear on what our financial responsibility is to the world; whether it be tax we owe to the government or a debt we owe to a lender.
We might sum up the bible’s teaching on this issue like this ….
By fulfilling our financial responsibilities outside the church, we are participating in God’s general work in the world.
To understand this better lets take a look at Romans 13. In this chapter the Apostle Paul explains the standard of community responsibility that is expected from people who follow Jesus Christ.
He begins by explaining the Believer’s responsibility to government generally – and I want us to take a brief look at this first to give us some necessary background, before we move on to the specific issues of Tax and debt.
Submission is the standard (v1).
RO 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
The principle here is that submission is the standard. And the reason given is because God has set up every authority that exists. So if we wish to be obedient to God, then we must be obedient to the authorities which he has put in place. And v 2 spells this out ….
Rebellion is against God (v2)
RO 13:2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
So if we rebel, it is not against the system, or the authority, it is against God. And there is a very high and very personal price to pay. But there is a more peaceful way to live…
The way of peace (vv3-4). (God sees even if man does not!)
RO 13:3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. RO 13:4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
This is all very logical and practical advice. Essentially what’s being said is abide by the law and you can sleep at night. So this is the way of peace .
Now to the specifics on tax and debt. What we are about to read is a revelation of God’s will regarding how we are to pay the bills.
Our motivation. (Not fear of punishment but love of what is right v5)
First of all, what’s our motivation supposed to be.
RO 13:5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
It’s just like God to raise the issue of our attitude before the practicalities. God is interested, first and foremost, about the condition of our heart.
It is God’s desire that we pay the bills, be it tax or debt, not because we fear punishment if we don’t pay, but because we love what is right. Believers follow a God who loves righteousness, and if we want to reflect our God’s heart, then we must love righteousness too. And that means we pay not because we have to, we pay simply because it’s the right thing to do – and this reflects God’s heart.
For example, we all use the roads and expect our children to be educated, it follows that the right thing to do is to pay for that service in our taxes. And to pay for it willingly – even cheerfully - not begrudgingly.