It was almost midnight and I was nearly finished filing my income taxes. I had finished my federal return and was now almost done with my state return. I live in Illinois and typically the state portion of my taxes is a snap. But the one thing you have to know about living in Illinois is that our fine Land of Lincoln loves to tax things.
And sure enough, as I was nearly to the end of the Illinois return, up pops up a new tax, one I had not heard of in the news. Its creatively titled the “use” tax and it goes like this. If you were smart enough to make a big purchase in another state where there is no sales tax, then Illinois wants a piece of that action. So you’re required to put the dollar figures of your purchases outside the state, including anything you ordered online or thru a catalog.
I hadn’t made any large purchases, just a bunch of small ones. So I took the standard exception. It was only $15 and still didn’t affect my state refund.
But still I was a bit miffed. Apparently it’s not enough for the state to tax sales, property, income, cell phone, utilities, and gasoline. Now they are going after purchases made in other states. And so for about fifteen minutes I treated my wife to what I thought was a brilliant soliloquy on the stupidity of liberal policies in our state. Had it not been midnight I may have filed for the governor’s race in 2013.
Most us hate taxes. We especially hate hidden ones, because it denies us the opportunity to count the cost.
This is eerily similar to life and the two choices you are presented with. One the one hand you can choose Jesus, who is up front about what it costs. He says that to follow Him will cost you everything. His glory demands our sacrifice, not because it earns us more favor, but because it flows from a willing heart. He gave us His all. He is Lord and therefore, it’s only reasonable (Romans 12:1).
Satan also demands your all and exacts a high cost. Only he doesn’t tell you this. He offers seemingly cost-free sensual pleasure and gratification. Just watch the beer commercials. What do they promise? The High Life. A good time. They conveniently edit out the DUI’s and broken shattered homes caused by drunkenness. Watch TV sitcoms. They present free and uninhibited sex and edit out the costly repercussions of indulging God’s good gift outside of marriage: shame, guilt, diseases, broken families.
This is what I call Satan’s hidden tithe. Most of us frown on the idea of sacrificing anything for God. We want don’t want to give up anything. But when we live for ourselves, when we believe the lie of the enemy, when we swim in the current of the world system, we end up “tithing” the best of ourselves.
So before you are two choices. Whose tax will you pay?
As for me, I’d rather pay the tithe on the front end, knowing the costs, rather than paying the enemy’s pernicious hidden tax.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.