Ah, April! —
Presenter of tulips, spring break, newly-minted Mariners baseball and, of course, Tax Day.
Not that I begrudge Caesar his due (Luke 20:20-26; Romans 13:1-7), but if Caesar could take some of the taxing strain out of the tax system, I would appreciate that. For instance, when reviewing an old W-4, I slogged through busywork verbiage that requires me to “Add lines 3 and 4 and enter the total. Include any amount for credits from Worksheet 7 in Pub 919 … Subtract line 6 from line 5. Enter the result, but not less than 0 … Divide the amount on line 7 by $3,000 and enter the result here. Drop any fraction … .”
Speaking of fractions, that is only a portion of the process, as line after line of detailed codes, rules and regulations prove tedious, practically taxing the soul of the taxed.
This month, as intermittent April showers intersect with April systems of piling and filing papers requiring various forms and formulas with ample do’s and don’t’s, I am left to wonder: is this the way many of us live out our faith?
That is, personally, do we live our lives with the belief that following a strict list of rules will somehow ease our taxing burden of sin, or earn a much-needed credit, or perhaps cover payment owed to a Holy God? Asked another way, can any substitute system of so-called religion, or any set of “humanisms” — complete with built-in impositions (ex. legalism, mysticism, asceticism; cf. Colossians 2:6-23) — can any such system, or personal performance on our part, make us debt-free or tax-free?
Thankfully, God’s Word reveals only one Way to find Life (John 14:6) and one sure way to receive forgiveness, freedom and favor with God (ex. Romans 8). This is not done by us (ex. Ephesians 2). As the Apostle Paul explains elsewhere, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).
Oh, and did I mention that this year April also included the showcase of both Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Rugged cross and empty tomb … .
So even during this taxing month, may the reality of a crucified and risen Christ breathe relief into your taxed soul, bring redemption from all spiritual burdens, and set you free from self-imposed rules and busywork. After all, Jesus already obeyed all the rules and paid all that is owed for righteousness. Therefore, by faith in him, may you know by April’s end, for sure, that no tax system is able to add to, subtract from, or divide what God has already done for his people.
This is good news, whatever the day or month.