It is that time of year again when the government looks to us to provide a statement of our income from the previous year. Once compiled, we are asked to send a portion back to them for the services and protection they provide us.
In ancient times, these men were looked upon with disdain. Mainly because they worked for the oppressor or occupier of the land. The Roman or Assyrian tax collectors were a necessary evil in those days. In the book of Matthew:
“And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."
A heathen is a strong word. This is not someone we would normally associate with. The Bible refers to a story about a religious man and a tax collector that is compared to an adulterer and extortioner.
In Luke 18, we read
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
Yet in Jesus time, two of His disciples were in fact tax collectors. He ate dinner with a third.
In Matthew we see Matthew as the tax collector:
Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.”
Later in Luke Jesus chose Zacchaeus to have dinner with.
"Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich."
Why would Jesus associate himself with such despicable men? I believe He was trying to show that they too are our brothers and our neighbors and need love just like we do. They too are children of God and despite their profession are part of our family and worthy of our respect.
So in this season of tax preparation and sorrow of loss of money to the government, let us remember those assigned to these tasks are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. They deserve our love and prayer just like those we associate with the rest of the year.
And that is the Whole Truth. God Bless and remember
God always answers His kneemail.