Tag Archives: responsibility

Taxes

File:Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 'Paying the Tax (The Tax Collector)' oil on panel, 1620-1640. USC Fisher Museum of Art.jpg

The Question about Paying Taxes

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Matthew 22: 15-22

What about taxes Jesus?
Surely you cannot agree with them.

Nobody likes paying taxes,
especially
when there is
a little bit,
or a lot,
added on
by the local collector…

Surely
our money
should be going to God
and not supporting a human ruler?

Surely
should be exempt,
make a stand,
refuse to pay?

What do you say Jesus?
Of course,
if you say we do not need to pay
we can report you
to the authorities,
let them know you are against them,
encouraging others
not to fulfil
their civic responsibility.

Then we would have you
and we would not
need to do it ourselves.

You want a coin?
Well yes,
of course it has the rulers head on,
that is what coins do.

So,
it is his money.
We need to pay our dues,
contribute for what we expect back,
pay our share
of the services we use
and to support those
who cannot pay as much as we can?

And having done that
we can give to God
what is his.

It is not an either-or situation,
it is both.

Giving to God
does not stop us giving what we owe
to society.

Forgive me Lord
when I am looking for excuses
to not share my resources,
to pay as little as possible,
while expecting much in return.

I guess that applies to society
and to you.

Give to me
a willing
and generous heart.

Just Like Me

We’re all made by God.
The rich,
the poor
are all the same
fundamentally,
under their surroundings,
if we aren’t taken in
by looks,
or our standards,
or the rhetoric
of those
who don’t care for
the “other”.

We all have the same needs
love,
nourishment,
safety,
a place to call home.

So why
do we think
we can be down
on those
whose life circumstances
have not been as ours?
Walk by them,
ignore them,
hurl abuse at them,
or question their rights?

Have we walked in their shoes?
Lived with what they have lived with?
Then we have no right
to pontificate

and every duty to help.

‘These people’*
as we are so keen to call them,
to keep them separate,
not like me
are actually just like me
and could be me,
or any one of my loved ones,
should life take one
slightly different turn.

And so I am called
to reach out,
to share,
to treat justly,
to love,
to bring hope.

Because I should treat them
as I would want God
to treat me.

* ‘These people’ are humans, with stories, lives, loves, fears.  They are people running from atrocity, from home lives we couldn’t imagine, from situations we have been a part of making.  They are people for whom risking life and limb is a better choice than where they are, where living on the street is better than any place they may have been living, where leaving their country is safer than staying there, where their life cirumstances have made them what they are and not the other way round. These are people, real people.  People just like you and me.
We should be ashamed if we treat them with anything other than respect and love, and don’t do all we can to bring them hope – that is what God requires of us.

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 (CEV)

The Value of a Good Reputation

22 A good reputation and respect
    are worth much more
    than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor
are all created
    by the Lord.

 

Troublemakers get in trouble,
    and their terrible anger
    will get them nowhere.

The Lord blesses everyone
    who freely gives food
    to the poor.

 

22 Don’t take advantage
of the poor
    or cheat them in court.
23 The Lord is their defender,
    and what you do to them,
    he will do to you.

Power and Responsibility

Long before Spiderman, Franklind D Rosevelt and Winston Churchill, Voltaire said,

With great power comes great responsibility,

He saw the abuse of power and privilege of those in power, whilst the poor and less privileged suffered.  It disturbed him, and he had to say something.

Similar to Jeremiah…

Jeremiah 23:1-6 (CEV)

A Message of Hope

The Lord said:

23 You leaders of my people are like shepherds that kill and scatter the sheep. You were supposed to take care of my people, but instead you chased them away. So now I’ll really take care of you, and believe me, you will pay for your crimes!

I will bring the rest of my people home from the lands where I have scattered them, and they will grow into a mighty nation. I promise to choose leaders who will care for them like real shepherds. All of my people will be there, and they will never again be frightened.

Someday I will appoint
an honest king
    from the family of David,
a king who will be wise
    and rule with justice.
As long as he is king,
Israel will have peace,
    and Judah will be safe.
The name of this king will be
    “The Lord Gives Justice.”

This passage is called “A Message of Hope”.  To the leaders it is anything but.

They have been given the responsibility of looking after the people, tending them, caring for them, protecting them.  Yet they have done anything but.  Rather than tending those they have responsibility for, they have scattered them.  They have failed in their responsibility, having been more interested in the power.  For that they will have to take responsibility, to be held to account for what they have not done – and what they have done wrongly.  Because God cares about these things.

But for those who have been let down, there is a message of hope.

People may have let you down, particularly the leaders who have responsibility to care for you, but God doesn’t.  He promises a time when you will no longer be frightened.  One day there will be honesty and justice – when God returns to rule.

I can’t help thinking this passage has so much to say to our current society.  Successive leaders in government and elsewhere have let down those they were meant to care for.  They have been more interested in the power than the responsibility.  One only has to watch any interview between politicians, of any party.  All sides have become more concerned by scoring points and hearing the sound of their own voices than offering us any positive solutions – and I speak as someone who has long stood up for the responsibility of using our vote to make a difference.

Meanwhile, many are frightened – for their future, their homes, their health, their life…

We don’t want to hear you shouting, we want to hear a sensible and practical solution, whoever you are.  Dont’ tell us what they’ve done wrong and gloat in it, tell us what you are going to do to make it right.  Or if you don’t know, then ask those who do – AND LISTEN.

Oh, I seem to have become very ranty on here… 🙂 Oh well, I think God was quite cross with these leaders in Jeremiah’s day.  Because God cares about these things.

However, before we become all self-righteous and pointing the finger at ‘them’, what about me?

When have I let people down?  Failed to listen?  Sent people scattering?  Been more interested in any power I have than any responsibility I should show?

Because God is looking at me too…  And God cares about these things.

I love this hymn.  It may feature many times in the next few weeks, because however weary we are of waiting, God promises that he is on his way to sort things out.  It’s one of those hymns that keeps me going.

Thank you Lord
for your promises,
your hope.
That you will return
to sort the world out,
you will restore justice,
take away fear,
bring peace and safety.

Forgive me Lord
the times I have failed
in my responsibilities,
let down those I care for,
scattered those I should hold tight,
and been more interested in power.

I pray
for all those in positions of responsibility.
May they seek to serve,
to care,
to bring justice
and peace,
that all may live lives
free from fear
and despair.
Grant to them wisdom,
integrity
and the strength to serve.

May we all
seek responsibility
and not power.