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Monday, October 28, 2013

Tithes and Taxes: Very Modest Forms Of Rent

Created for lease to responsible tenants
"Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater."

Luke 12:48b (TLB)

In the Hebrew Bible, a tithe (10%) of ones produce or income was to be set aside for the support God’s work and for the benefit of the poor (Leviticus 27:30, 32). The New Testament does not explicitly mandate a tithe, but promotes generous giving of the kind that helps bring about equality.

It would be hard to justify any North American Christians giving less than a tithe in light of how blessed we are in comparison to the majority of the world's people. Ten percent should be considered a most reasonable form of “rent” for the privilege of living on the most hospitable planet imaginable.

Think of all the benefits: endless beauty and enough food, water and fresh air for all (providing we take proper care of the earth), along with the priceless gift of life itself. This is to say nothing of countless other examples of pure, unmerited grace and non-physical blessings.

But what about taxes? We could also think of them as a modest and reasonable “rent” we gladly pay for living in a country that offers so many benefits and services we could never provide for ourselves.

For example, we have roads, schools, a postal system, police protection, and health care for the elderly and most needy, plus a host of other blessings we regularly take for granted. Of course we can always find examples of waste and misuse of tax dollars that need to be addressed, but instead of complaining (or considering taxes to be an unwarranted form of "theft") we should seek to correct problems and to be grateful for the fantastic bargain we get for these “rent payments”.

Lest we be guilty of a serious case of “Gratitude Deficit Disorder”.

You might also want to read  "Christmas Economics:How Both Pentateuch and Pentecost Promote Wealth Redistribution"
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