Words of Worth

The Apostle Paul’s Tax Return

April 17, 2016

tax word cloud

In these last hours leading up to the looming April 18th tax return deadline, we may be scouring every receipt, every business lunch check, and every charitable contribution in hopes that they would “count” as a deduction. We may be calculating how every loss can be a gain and every gain a loss in favor of yielding the possibility of receiving a refund this tax year.

All this “counting” made me wonder about the Apostle Paul and what his tax return might look like and then I realized we have a picture of it in Scripture. Either by heredity or by personal achievement, Paul had at least seven noteworthy assets or gains he could file on a long form tax return:

Philippians 3:4-6:
4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day,
of the people of Israel,
of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrews;
as to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;
as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

If the apostle would have boasted and trusted in the flesh, he had as much cause as any man. If achievements were the way to gain favor with God, Paul certainly had a long list of itemized deductions! However, the things which he counted gain while a Pharisee, he counted loss for Christ. In Philippians 3:7-11 we read that Paul moved his gains to the loss column:

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

As Paul poured over his “tax return” and all of his impressive personal assets, he counted that column as rubbish—refuse or table scraps fit for only dogs, in order that he may gain Christ. He deemed all these things to be but loss, compared with the knowledge of Christ, by faith in Christ’s person and salvation. Paul’s spiritual arithmetic yielded him a relationship with Christ which was by faith in Christ’s shed blood and not in anything Paul did in his flesh. And from that point on, the only return Paul was looking forward to, was Christ’s return!

So am I! But until He does return, I still need to file my taxes. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to dash. I need to get my tax returns in the mail and off to 1 Revenue Place, Harrisburg, PA.

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