Thursday, April 7, 2011

Death and Taxes

They say that two things are sure in this life, death and taxes.  Every year I approach April with fear and trepidation.  Not because I normally owe the government, but because I despise preparing my taxes.  Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself that I actually completed my taxes in record time this year, 3 weeks before the due date.  It might have something to do with being out of work and really needing the refund...but none the less the deed has been done. 

This morning I was reading about man who was trying to avoid paying his dues.  He was trying to profit on something that he didn't do and literally just stumbled upon.  It's like finding a bag of money in the street, you know it doesn't belong to you, but in an instant it seems ok to pick up because no one is watching.  You try not to think about the desperation of the one that lost it, you try not to think about how you will have to explain to your loved ones how you suddenly came into all this money.  You tell yourself if you tithe on this bag of money it will somehow become holy and justified.  

Such was the story of Achan in Joshua 7.  The booty in Jericho was under a ban but the lure and desire of riches caused Achan to make a deadly mistake.  The gold and silver was to be an offering to the Lord (Joshua 6:19; 7:12).  That mistake cost him his life, it cost his family's life and it cost the lives of 36 fighting men that lost their life in battle.  Finally, it tarnished the reputation and glory of the God of Israel. 

It only takes a second.  In that split second we can make a wrong decision that can cost us everything.  Achan knew that he wasn't supposed to touch the silver and gold but he coveted them (7:21) and sinned against God.  What was Achan thinking?
  • No one is watching, it won't effect anyone else.
    • God is always watching.  There is no place we can hide, no place that we can go to run from the eyes of the Lord.
  • He had good intentions.  Maybe he really needed the money, he had a noble cause.
    • Maybe his kids needed a doctor.  Maybe his taxes were due.  Maybe his tent (home) was leaking and needed a new roof but he couldn't afford it.  His kids were getting sick, his wife was complaining, his mother-in-law kept calling him "good for nothing". 
  • Did God really say not to take any silver or gold?  After all, God let us get all that silver from our Egyptian neighbors, surely he would want us to have this silver and gold.
  • Achan forgot that God was supplying all their needs.  He had already revealed Himself as omnipotent provider and the God that deeply cared for His people.  God would supply their needs and provide His people with a portion of the booty (8:27), but the first part went to Him (as in Jericho). 
How can we ensure that we won't slip in that moment of weakness?  Just do what God told Joshua to do:
"This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."  Joshua 1:8

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