Jesus says: Pay Your Taxes

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while. It’s easy for politicians and, frankly, everyone else to complain about taxes; some going as far to try to eliminate them all together. However, while Jesus was on Earth he paid taxes when they were due and when asked publicly his opinion about it he said the following:

Matthew 22:19a Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” … 20b “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Of course, even Jesus had his reservations regarding how and from whom taxes are collected. Regardless, he still paid them when due and did not urge others not to. I’ve found a couple passages that remind us not to kick up against our governments, as it is God that allows them to be in power. In fact, The Lord, warned His disobedient people through Samuel the consequences of rejecting God and desiring a king.

If The Lord is Not King, then Man Is

It is what it is. However, in a way the consequences are mainly different because of who is served and not simply because what is done. In reality, God commanded Aaron to setup similar structures to the governments of the time and today. The Israelites had Levites; we have politicians, state employees and federal employees. The Israelites had tithes, we have taxes (and tithes too, but that’s another topic in itself).

Look at Your Pay Stub

Here’s a fun excercise… Do you know how much you are paying in deductions and where those deductions go?

Here’s what I found when I look at mine:

5.6% Federal Taxes
7.1% MD State Taxes
6.2% FICA/SS
1.5% FICA/Medicare


Hmm… so… The federal and state governments take less than 13% out of my pay in taxes. Compare that with 10% tithes. Of course, the state taxes vary by state and that’s before I get money back when I file my taxes.

Retirement Benefits

What’s the rest? Effectively the remaining 7% is actually the government deciding that I need to set aside money that they will give back to me when I’m old and in need of them.  It’s a shame, the government knows all to well that we don’t set aside money for our future selves (much less our grandchildren).

Let’s Discuss

So in summary, US taxes are fairly close in purpose and amount to the old testament precedent. It’s not a perfect system. I keep imagining an Earth in where God’s perfect will is done, and when I’m realistic about it, I consider that tithes and taxes will be one and the same. What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Jesus says: Pay Your Taxes”

  1. For me, and I assume many people, the issue is not about whether or not we should pay our taxes as much as it is about what the heck the government is doing with our taxes. I think most sensible people know that taxes are a necessary means of ensuring a safe and productive society, however, when you disagree with “how” the government uses those taxes, I think that causes some of us to become discouraged. This was a good reminder though. I especially like how you explained how tithes were used as a tax in Israels’ government structure. I’d be interested to know if there were possibly some other forms of tax that were not mentioned in the Bible, but were in fact imposed upon Israel? I think in the end, Jesus just wants us to realize that He is sovereign and that there is no need to allow our misgivings about the application of our funds to cause us to disobey His commands.

    1. Very true. “How” is a major concern. However, I’ve heard philosophies that taxes should be done away with in some form or another. Some people want to pay for everything via the sales tax (and I think there are countries that use that paradigm).

      A deeper issue is that our attitude toward taxes and tithes seems the same for many: how can I get out of paying? I here The Lord saying, you have robbed me. Between trying to hide funds from the government, illegal income, and people bent on finding an exploiting loopholes tax revenue is lower than it theoretically should be.

      Of course, how do we balance dissatisfaction of the use of taxes with having a generally negative attitude regarding paying taxes?

    2. I’d like to fact check the video I shared recently regarding Old Testament tithing. The speaker claimed that according to the OT, tithing was closer to 25% instead of 10%. Not sure about that, but it’s worth a deeper study, especially since so many use it as the template for giving today.

    3. Though I understand your point of view, I am way too close to the edge to not know that that, “free,” money is going to be a life saver for those who are out poiudnng the beat looking for jobs from shop to factory and have nothing to feed our family with these days. I know…we support my son and his family while they wait for SSD after a horrendous accident that left him unable to work. His wife works at Micky Ds since she lost her job.We are thankful this Christmas that my husband is still working and that I am available to be grandma after school and some evenings. God has given us thatgift.

      1. I often think about the old testament laws regarding economics. There were rules that addressed providing for the poor. Unfortunately, the fear of too many people abusing the system makes it hard for policies like that to exist today. Thankfully, America does have some policies in place to support the poor, unemployed, disabled, etc.

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