Taxes, Luxury and King Rehoboam,

April 11, 2012 at 10:54 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

I finally worked up my taxes yesterday.  For me this was late, but with some funerals, some procrastination and some general busyness, that job got shuffled to the bottom of the pile, until the last week possible.  It wasn’t a good year tax-wise for us.  There were some credits we could take last year that were no longer available, and even though our income was the same, we had to pay more this year.  Not only that but we have to budget a significantly larger amount for taxes next year.  (Pastors are considered self-employed and have to pay their own estimated taxes.)  That is due to more credits disappearing and less possible deductions.  If the current debt and spending trends continue, those matters will only get worse in the future – more and more tax breaks will disappear.  There’s a lot that can be said about that, but this is supposed to be a devotional and theological blog that avoids a lot of political commentary.  Just know those things were on my mind all day yesterday and again when I read my devotions this morning.

In 1 Kings 12, King Solomon had died and his son Rehoboam was on the throne.  He asked his father’s advisors what he should do but didn’t like their wise advice, so he appointed his own advisors who were his age.  The younger generation gave completely different counsel, which Rehoboam followed.  That led to the rebellion which brought about a division of Israel into two nations.  What was the bad advice that he followed?  The people made a request of young King Rehoboam.  They said, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” (v4 – When it says “heavy yoke,” read “taxes.”)  This was the question the King took to his father’s advisors.  They said, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” (v7 – read “favorable answer” as “lessen the taxes”)  But Rehoboam and his friends had grown up wealthy from that heavy yoke, and weren’t about to give it up.  “Tell them,” his young counselors advised, ‘”My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.” (v10 – read “More taxes to maintain our lifestyle.”)

The lesson, both devotional and political, is this, “Once someone tastes the luxuriant lifestyle, they can’t give it up.”  Or as one financial advisor put it, “A luxury once experienced becomes a necessity.”  On the political front, when the luxuriant lifestyle is lived on tax money by those who can increase taxes, taxes will always increase along with more controls and less freedoms.  Because of that fact, government will almost never get smaller without a revolution of some kind.  In our Bible story, the Northern Tribes rebelled against Rehoboam, to become the nation of Judah, because of that burden.  In our history, it was the ever increasing tax burden and control over the Colonies by England that became the chief reason for the American Revolution.  And in our future history, if there isn’t significant change, it will be the ever increasing tax burden and control by the federal government that will eventually lead to trouble.

On the personal and devotional front, we must be careful about the luxuries we find necessary in our lives, so if financial collapse does come, we will have a shorter distance to fall.  Our hope and security must be in Christ and not in the things of this world.

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