Listen to: Hezekiah Walker, "Every Praise"
Today is Tax day. Some of us last minute filers are scrambling around to assemble the paperwork necessary that must be postmarked by midnight tonight. Others are partying, many are protesting and demonstrating. We pay too much in taxes. Our taxes aren't spent wisely. We should pay more in taxes. We have an unfair tax system. There are deeply help views whichever way you turn!
When God led the people of Israel forth into the Promised Land, they came with laws and decrees on how they were to live as a people that instilled acts of giving and taxing that supported the temple, the poor in the community and later the king and his retinue. Taxes have been around a long, long time. In the Hebrew scriptures (and later in the Christian writings), people were taught, apart from taxes, that giving was a honor, a spiritual habit that reflects the God's Holy Spirit in us. Giving is a grace-filled act. We give because God first gave, and continually gives, generously. Look around us. God gave us life. Creation. Jesus. Our abilities and our challenges. Spiritual gifts. Guidance, options, opportunities and answers. Forgiveness, over and over again. So much more. What is it Jesus says? "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)"
God has created us to be givers, not hoarders. Hoarding, or the "building bigger barns" syndrome Jesus describes when a rich man tears down his barn to build a bigger one to store his wealth instead of sharing it (Luke 12:18) results in a spiritual "tax penalty" for us. Our souls are created to give, to flow, and to passon blessings to others. While we may not want to write out that check to Uncle Sam, we may want to take a second look at how we are giving of ourselves. Are we honestly sharing enough? God, who has held nothing back, would have us live in the joy of giving.
Our brother Paul reminds us: " Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. " (2 Corinthians 9:7). So this isn't about laying a guilt trip. This isn't about shaming anyone. What is it about it awaking each of us to the essence of goodness that God has planted within: a goodness of caring, sharing and giving; giving consistently. To give in a disciplined fashion and give to someone/charity/church in need that cannot pay you back. To give not for a thank you but to say thank you to God who has given us so much.
Have you paid your "gratitude" tax today? Give 10 thank yous to God and others.
Prayer: "God of Giving: Teach me to give so I might be a giver of love, a creator of miracles in your name."