Tax Time Is Teaching Time
" ... Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's"
If children listen to the news or to conversations between adults as April 15 approaches, they will hear the words "income tax" spoken more and more. Ask them if they think Jesus paid taxes. Share with them the story from Matthew 22:15-22. Explain that the Pharisees tried to get Jesus in trouble with the rulers of his day by asking him if it was right to pay taxes. The Pharisees thought Jesus would refuse to pay taxes, but Jesus taught just the opposite!
Explain that it is the responsibility of Christians to be good citizens. One aspect of being a good citizen is paying taxes. Ask the children if they know why taxes are needed. Tell them some of the positive ways that tax money is spent — to fund schools; to pay the salaries of community helpers (police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and so on); to provide various types of assistance for the poor and the unemployed; to purchase library books; to maintain our parks; to construct streets, sidewalks, and highways; to help people living in other countries. Spend some time listing other positive ways that tax dollars are used. Ask the children what would happen if the funds used to support these services and programs were no longer available. What difference would it make?
Now ask the children why we give money to our churches. You could make a pie chart to show the children how the money is used in your local church. You might list how much of the money is spent on salaries, program expenses (be sure to include their favorite church programs), curriculum, missions, utility bills, and so on. Ask the children what difference it would make to them and to the community if the church suddenly had to close its doors because of a lack of money.
Explain that when people volunteer, the government and/or the church does not need to spend money in that area and, thus, can use the money for other needs. Close with a time of prayer for the leaders in our government and churches. Pray that they will be good stewards of the money they manage. Pray, too, that we will be faithful in supporting our government and our local church with our money and our prayers.
Questions for Discussion
- Who are your local church leaders? (Find pictures of them and/or introduce them to the children.) Who are your government leaders and community helpers? (Find pictures of them and/or visit their respective websites.)
- Can you think of a prayer to say for your government and church leaders and for the community helpers? What are some of the concerns that they might have? How might your prayers encourage them?
- What are some volunteer projects that you could do in the community and in your local church that might help either the government or the church save money?