Paying taxes is often seen as an inconvenient or even burdensome obligation. However, the Bible has a lot to say about our responsibility as citizens and Christians to pay taxes. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the biblical principles regarding paying taxes, including key verses and passages on the topic. We will also provide a summary of the main takeaways for Christians to keep in mind when it comes to taxes.
Paying taxes can feel frustrating, especially when we don’t always agree with how the government spends our hard-earned money. However, Scripture provides wisdom and guidance on our civic duties like paying taxes. The Bible encourages Christians to be model citizens who respect governing authorities, while also recognizing that our ultimate allegiance is to God.
- The Bible instructs Christians to pay taxes and honor civic authorities
- Paying taxes is a way for Christians to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”
- We are called to submit to governing authorities as they are established by God
- Paying taxes should be seen as fulfilling a civic duty, not a burdensome obligation
- Christians can work for justice and reforms in how taxes are used, while still paying them
- God is ultimately in control over earthly kings and authorities
By exploring what the Bible says about taxes, Christians can gain wisdom for how to be faithful citizens and good stewards of their resources. While taxes can feel burdensome, Scripture gives us perspective and principles for this part of life.
- Biblical Support for Paying Taxes
- Biblical Principles for Paying Taxes
- Practical Principles for Christians and Taxes Today
- Conclusion: Key Takeaways on Christianity and Taxes
Biblical Support for Paying Taxes
The Bible contains numerous passages that directly address the issue of paying taxes. Let’s take a look at some of the key verses that provide biblical support for paying taxes:
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s
One of the most well-known statements of Jesus regarding taxes is found in Matthew 22:15-22. Here the Pharisees try to trap Jesus into speaking against paying taxes to Caesar. However, Jesus responds:
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21 NKJV)
Jesus affirms that it is right and good to pay the taxes required by earthly authorities. He makes a distinction between the realm of Caesar (civic duties and obligations) and the realm of God (spiritual duties and worship). Christians have a responsibility to honor both realms appropriately.
Be subject to governing authorities
The apostle Paul addresses the issue of submitting to earthly authorities in Romans 13:1-7. He writes:
“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. 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. 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 whom honor.” (Romans 13:1-7 NKJV)
Here Paul teaches that governing authorities are established by God for the purpose of keeping order and promoting good. Therefore, Christians are called to subject themselves to these authorities. This includes paying the required taxes, since rulers need resources to fulfill their God-given role.
Fulfill your obligations
In Romans 13:6-7, Paul specifically commands Christians to pay taxes:
“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 whom honor.” (Romans 13:6-7 NKJV)
Taxes are “due” to governing authorities, and paying them is part of fulfilling our obligations as citizens. Paul reaffirms Jesus’ teaching to give Caesar what he requires.
Be a model citizen
The apostle Peter has similar instructions for Christian citizens in 1 Peter 2:13-17:
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:13-17 NKJV)
Peter teaches that by being model citizens who obey earthly authorities, Christians will put to silence critics who might otherwise slander them. This includes paying required taxes, not just for fear of punishment, but to honor the governing officials as established by God.
Blessings for the righteous
In Proverbs 14:34, Solomon observes:
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 NKJV)
While taxes may often be misused, by paying them obediently and seeking righteousness in the land, Christians can be a blessing to their nation. This brings moral and civic honor.
Stewardship and justice
While the Bible commands Christians to pay taxes, it also teaches that we are only stewards of the money God provides us. As Isaiah says,
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1 NKJV)
While we are obliged to pay taxes, our priorities should be centered on the kingdom of God, not earthly treasures. (See Matthew 6:19-21.)
Furthermore, we have a moral obligation to seek justice if taxes are used unrighteously. As citizens, Christians can appeal to authorities for reforms in tax policies and the use of tax revenue. Paying taxes does not equate to endorsing every government policy. However, the Bible does prohibit withholding taxes as a form of protest. (See Romans 13:6-7.)
In summary, the Bible contains clear directives and support for paying taxes. This is a vital part of our civic duty and privilege as residents. The key is maintaining biblical priorities and perspective.
Biblical Principles for Paying Taxes
Beyond the direct commands to pay taxes, Scripture provides important principles that should guide Christian views and actions related to taxes:
1. Government and authority are God-ordained
According to Romans 13, governing officials and institutions are established by God for the ordering of society. We are to view them as “God’s servants” even if we disagree with particular policies. While abuses will occur in a fallen world, the institution of government derives its authority from God. Paying taxes is one way we recognize and honor that authority.
2. Stewardship and personal responsibility
The Bible views all human resources as a trust from God. We are stewards, not owners. Paying taxes should be seen as part of our stewardship, returning a portion to governing authorities to fund needed services. This also relieves our conscience if funds are used in ways we disagree with. We are not personally culpable for how the government spends taxes. Our role is to pay faithfully and be good stewards of what remains.
3. Justice and moral obligations
While paying taxes is right, Christians also have a duty to promote justice in society. We should exercise our rights to oppose unrighteous policies and reforms unjust structures in society. However, the means for promoting justice must also be just. The Bible consistently denounces violent protest, intimidation, and law-breaking methods. Civil disobedience comes with a cost and should be a last resort. In a democracy, Christians can appeal to elected officials to change policies.
4. Modeling Christlike character
By paying taxes faithfully, Christians demonstrate good citizenship and model Christlike character. Jesus’ followers should be known for integrity and honoring authority. Paying taxes is a relatively small sacrifice to make to be obedient to Christ and avoid selfishness or greed in financial matters. Our ultimate reward is not worldly but heavenly.
5. Trusting God’s sovereignty
Scripture repeatedly affirms that God is sovereign over earthly rulers and authorities. Even if taxes are misused or abused, we can take comfort knowing God is in control. Appeals to government should be combined with prayer and reliance on God to accomplish His purposes in society. God can even use the payment of taxes for ultimate good, despite human failings.
In summary, paying taxes is not just an obligation but an opportunity for Christians to model biblical values like good citizenship, stewardship, and faith in God’s eternal purposes. The key is maintaining an eternal perspective.
Practical Principles for Christians and Taxes Today
Let’s explore how these biblical principles regarding taxes apply practically to Christians today:
1. Pay taxes owed fully and on time.
This is perhaps the most basic application. Taking shortcuts like omitting or under-reporting income is dishonest and violates biblical commands. Christians should set an example of integrity.
2. Claim legitimate exemptions and deductions.
While paying owed taxes is right, Christians are not obligated to pay more than legally required. Claiming valid exemptions and deductions is responsible stewardship. However, be cautious of exploiting legal “loopholes” or participating in tax shelters of questionable ethics.
3. Be charitable and generous with remaining income.
Rather than resenting taxes, Christians should view paying them as fulfilling an obligation and then look for opportunities to generously bless others with what income remains. Our attitude should be grounded in eternal priorities.
4. Avoid tax evasion or fraud.
Cheating on taxes for financial gain or protesting unjust policies is unbiblical. Christians face a higher judgment for integrity in finances. The means matter as much as the ends.
5. Use legal and ethical means to change policies.
Christians can advocate changes to tax policies through voting, campaigning, petitions, etc. We have a voice and should use it responsibly. However, pressure for change should remain within legal and non-violent means.
6. Pray for authorities and governing officials.
Rather than complain about taxes, pray for wisdom for government leaders. Only God can change hearts or bring revival and reforms to a nation. Our petitions can make a spiritual difference.
7. Model responsible citizenship.
Paying taxes can provide opportunities to explain our civic duty as Christians. We can also correct critics who assume Christians are indifferent to society’s needs or deficient in patriotism. Honoring taxes honors our country.
The bottom line is that Christians are called to engage society in a positive, redemptive way. Paying taxes is one aspect of this larger civic responsibility. By maintaining proper biblical priorities and perspectives, taxes can become less a source of resentment and more an opportunity for modeling Christlike virtue.
Conclusion: Key Takeaways on Christianity and Taxes
Paying taxes is often an unpopular and controversial issue. However, the Bible provides wisdom, perspective and principles for how Christians should view taxes and their civic obligations. Here are some key takeaways to remember:
- The Bible directly instructs Christians to pay taxes owed to civil authorities as part of honoring and submitting to government. This includes Jesus’ command to “render to Caesar.”
- Paying taxes should be seen as part of Christian stewardship and responsibility, returning to governing authorities what is needed to fund orderly society.
- Christians have a moral duty to promote justice in society, which can include advocating tax reforms. However, means of protest must be ethical, non-violent and lawful.
- Paying taxes faithfully helps Christians model good citizenship and Christlike character. It is a way to “silence critics” and live out biblical values.
- Tax policies and use of funds may be flawed, but God is still sovereign. He can use even misspent taxes for His eternal purposes.
- Christians should pay taxes fully, but also claim exemptions and deductions as wise stewards. Charity and generosity should mark the use of remaining income.
- The Bible prohibits tax evasion or fraud. Christians answer to a higher authority and must maintain integrity.
- Along with paying taxes, Christians should pray for governing officials and use legal means to influence policies for good.
While often unpopular, paying taxes is upheld in Scripture as a civic duty. Maintaining biblical priorities and perspectives helps Christians be faithful citizens and stewards, while also advancing Christ’s kingdom on earth.