December 31, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 9:46 pm

Christians and the Law
Is it really that important for Christians to follow and obey the law? Have you ever stopped to consider this question and figure out exactly what your answer would be?

I have now been working for Christian organizations ten years and I am sorry to say that in just that short period of time I have run across a number of Christian people who think it is okay to disobey the law! Isn’t that amazing? I have known of people who knowingly and deliberately undertook construction projects without obtaining a building permit when they knew such was required by law. There was also an individual who once went to great pains to have some equipment installed that clearly violated building codes. This individual was a Christian man working for a Christian non-profit ministry!

Romans 13:1-3: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same” (NKJV).

What about the issue of taxes? Are we as Christians supposed to do our best to avoid paying our share of taxes? The devil will deceive us and try to convince us that we are “being good stewards,” but this is not scriptural. In fact, Paul goes on to say in Romans 13:5-7, “Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to who honor” (NKJV).

“Mable” once worked for me. She was on government-funded disability and was limited as to how much income she could earn each month. The interesting thing was that her “disability” did not actually limit her ability to work. Because of this, she was able to work for our organization. When it came time to collect from her the necessary information for payroll purposes, she wanted to submit her daughter’s social-security number so we could make all paychecks out to the daughter. She did not want any of those earnings being reported to the Internal Revenue Service! Can you believe that? That this kind of thing would be happening at a Christian organization? Of course, I told her that I could not go along with such dishonesty and the lady consequently left her job with our ministry.

Another incident was with a money manager who did his best to manage the funds and save as much money as possible. This, in and of itself, is commendable. But here is the twist; in one particular situation, he was faced with a potential tax liability because of a late disbursement of some funds. He didn’t realize until it was too late that this was the case. To solve this problem, he backdated some checks so that the accounting records and the checkbook gave the appearance that these checks were written before the deadline. Thus, he avoided any tax liability. Can you imagine that a Christian in a Christian ministry would condone such an activity?

I believe these principles and passages from God’s Word need to be revisited and an understanding sought after. If we have turned a deaf ear to the law, if we are ignoring the law, according to Solomon, our prayers are an abomination to God. Could this be why it sometimes feels like God isn’t hearing our prayers? Could this be why it sometimes seems like God’s work and ministries struggle so for funding? We know God is not limited in His resources, but could it be that God is limiting how much of His resources are made available to some organizations because those organizations and some of the people involved with them have turned a deaf ear to the law? Perhaps the work of those organizations has now become an abomination in the sight of the Almighty God.

Sometimes individuals and organizations live in constant fear of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service or an inspection by the fire marshal or building codes inspector. Why would this be? If an organization is conducting all of its affairs according to the law and according to Biblical principles, what have they to be afraid of? If God is on our side, we will be more than conquerors. Hear what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 13:3b-4, “Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (NKJV).

My passion and cry for God’s people and for Christian ministries is that we would turn our ear back to the law – that we would seek to conduct all of our business and financial affairs according to God’s Word and principles. If we are doing our best in this area, I believe we can count on God’s faithful provision and the fact that He will supply all our needs. Financial advisor Larry Burkett says, “The way you handle money is the clearest outside indicator of what’s going on in your life spiritually.”¹ I believe this to be true, not only for individuals but also for Christian organizations. Proverbs 29:18b says, “But happy is he who keeps the law” (NKJV). I believe this to be true, and I believe God will hear our prayers if we are doing our best to follow and abide by the law.

For additional reference: Romans 13:1-7 (NLT) “Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. 2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. 3 For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. 4 The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. 5 So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience. 6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid so they can keep on doing the work God intended them to do. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due.”

¹THE COMPLETE FINANCIAL GUIDE FOR YOUNG COUPLES (c) 1989, 1993 Victor Books/SP Publications. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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