Taxes, Tithing and Trust
By Rajen Devadason
It is commonplace for us to gripe about our taxes. However, as author and professional speaker Dr John Demartini teaches, taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilised society. Perhaps that’s why Jesus declared that all of us should not merely pay our dues to God but also to Caesar.1
In today’s context, Jesus’ reference was less to Tiberius (the Roman emperor who ruled till 37 A.D.) and more to the government of the day.
Most of us believe we would be happier if our tax burden were lower. That’s predictable, but wrong…
The latest United Nations’ World Happiness Report, released in late 2017, states that the 10 happiest countries on the planet are Norway, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.2 Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs co-wrote the report.
Sachs states that citizens’ satisfaction levels are related to what they get in return for the taxes they pay. CNBC quoted him as saying, “They are happy because these societies are not only prosperous but also with high equality, social trust and honesty of government.”
This suggests that where people distrust their governments because of corruption and self-serving policies, happiness levels are lower, which is evident in some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. (For a closer look at those UN findings, visit worldhappiness.report.)
PAY YOUR TAX
From a Christian viewpoint, regardless of whether we are happy or upset with our respective governments, we have Christ’s instructions to pay ALL the taxes due from us. As wise stewards however, we mustn’t pay anything more! Hence, securing the services of a good tax advisor is a sound investment.
My advice is to manage your finances in an honest, transparent, upfront manner so there is never a need to fear any investigation by the authorities.
As for reducing any possible trust deficit in your heart and mind against your government, the solution is, interestingly, tied to the second half of Jesus’ famous instructions: “Render… unto God the things that are God’s.”2
GIVE YOUR TITHES
There are many things we owe our Creator: love, honour, respect…. But in this context, the tithe is the most relevant.
Malachi 3:10 contains the Bible’s most direct teaching about tithing, and the ONLY instance in the entire Bible of God Almighty challenging His people to test His promise of enormous, prodigious blessing to see if it is true!3
It is natural for those who tithe to take God at His Word and to seek personal blessing. But that promise of God may also be claimed and directed to areas of national healing.
Christians living in countries suffering from a high trust deficit arising from corruption, myopia and ineptitude on the part of their respective governments can – and I dare say should – pray for an improvement of governance. The intensity and urgency of such prayers should skyrocket during periods leading up to elections. The apostle Paul instructed his disciple, the young pastor Timothy, to teach others to pray for the government of the day so that national affairs may improve for all people.4
Moving on, regardless of how much or how little you trust your government, the importance of taking responsibility for improvements in your family life is essential. Frankly, any such improvement will be tied directly to the strengthening of your personal and family finances.
MANAGE YOUR RESOURCES
Financial guru Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame self-published that bestseller in 1997, and many books after that. In 2017, he wrote Why the Rich are Getting Richer. As each of us focuses on correct behaviour such as paying all the taxes due from us, but not a penny more; paying our tithe to God (for Christians, to the church from which we gain spiritual sustenance); praying for our government to improve, and voting intelligently; and managing our money wisely, consider this advice from Kiyosaki:
“Assets put money in your pocket whether you work or not.”
“Liabilities take money from your pocket even if they go up in value.”
“Anything can be an asset or liability, as defined by the direction of cash flow. Most people have money slipping through their fingers because they insist their house or car is an asset.”5
It is important for us to manage our money well because if we desire happy, balanced lives of bounty, then having some money is useful. We need to manage our lives and our money competently to succeed. Part of that process involves gradually replacing our reliance on active income derived from toil with passive income that flows into our bank accounts and portfolios in the form of interest, dividends, distributions and rental.
TRUST IN GOD
There is stupendous satisfaction in establishing such a pipeline of passive income.
However, none of us should make the mistake of setting our hearts on – and placing our trust in – money. Doing so would be like building our lives on a foundation of sand.6
It is only when we build our lives on Jesus, the Solid Rock, that we secure our present and our future.
Our ultimate happiness hinges on doing the best we can throughout this tough but short journey we call life; repenting when we fail; restarting our upward journey as many times as necessary; and constantly putting down roots deep into Him who is the ultimate Source of abundant, eternal life.7
1 Matthew 22:21b (KJV), “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
3 Malachi 3:10 (NIV), “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
4 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NIV), “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, …”
5 Why the Rich are Getting Richer – What is Financial Education… Really? Chapter 8; page 131. 2017 Robert T. Kiyosaki and Tom Wheelwright; Plata Publishing.
6 Matthew 7:26-27 (NIV), “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
7 Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Asian Beacon: Apr – Jun 2018 (Vol 50 #2, p44-45)