Prepare to give an account before your deadline

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2012

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to a French scientist and close friend in 1789. The often-quoted statement is as true now as then.

Margaret Mitchell’s famous character Scarlett O’Hara exclaimed, “Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.” When it comes to paying income taxes, some people may feel their money is “gone with the wind.”

However, the Internal Revenue Service wants us to file our tax returns or extensions by April 17. That’s because April 15 is not a business day, and April 16 is a holiday in Washington, D.C.

Now, I’m not an income tax professional, but as a taxpayer, I do know tax forms require us to give an account of ourselves. The forms require our name and address. We mark whether we’re married or single and list our dependents. We must report our income and expenses.

There’s a line to record our occupations, the job where we earn the money on which the tax dollars are due. We tell how much we gave to our church or charitable organizations. In other words, the IRS knows a lot about us from the tax return we file.

Did you know the subject of taxes can be found in the Bible? For instance, Jesus paid taxes. In Matthew chapter 17, the temple tax collectors asked Peter whether or not Jesus was going pay what amounted to two days wages. Jesus told Peter to go fishing, and the first fish he caught would have a coin in its mouth to pay for His and Peter’s taxes.

Jesus could provide for us in the same way if He wanted. Instead, He gives us the strength for each day to earn a living and pay taxes. So don’t use a poor catch of fish as an excuse for not paying taxes.

In Matthew 22, the Pharisees asked Jesus whether tribute or taxes should be paid. Jesus held up a coin and asked what image was imprinted on it. They replied, “Caesar,” the ruler of their government. Jesus told them to give Caesar what he is due, and we who are made in the image of God should give God what He is due – ourselves.

When you think about the two words – the IRS – they spell the word – theirs. But we belong to God, who paid a debt we could not pay by sending His Son to die for our sins. We are His, if we ask Him to forgive us. God knows much more about us than the IRS. According to Matthew – a tax collector turned disciple – He even knows the number of hairs on our head, and God also knows our hearts.

There’s something else after death that is certain. Hebrews 9:27 says all of us will die and after this comes the judgment and “every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12). Like Scarlett O’Hara said, there’s no convenient time for death, so let’s be prepared for our “deadline.”