It is March 20, less than a month till income taxes are due. Are your taxes ready? Have you gathered all applicable records together? Are you doing your taxes, or do you have an accountant do them for you? Do you know anything about your accountant? Is he reliable? Is he going to find for you all the tax breaks you are entitled to? Does he know the tax laws well enough to keep you out of trouble with the IRS and to get you the best deal possible? Perhaps more importantly, have you given him ALL the material and information about your 1989 financial matters for him to do an accurate job? I don't know a lot about taxes or the IRS, but I know enough to have a healthy respect/fear for them. I know they are not to be reckoned with lightly.
Of all the civil institutions we have to deal with (police, judicial, IRS), I have a greater fear for the IRS. Not because we are doing anything financially illegal or shady, but because I don't know enough about the financial/tax world to know if we are handling these things correctly. I know we'd better not try to hide anything from the IRS, and we'd better open up our financial affairs for them to clearly see at inspection time. The results of NOT doing that could mean enormous fines or even jail for not doing things their way.
That may be a strange thought coming out of Chapter 4. Reading the 13th verse out of the New International Version sort of reminded me of the IRS.
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account."I'm told that phrase, "to whom we must give an account," is actually a financial accounting terminology. If the word "IRS" is substituted for the word "God" in that verse, you might see where I'm heading with this. We are "uncovered and laid bare" before the IRS. Isn't that the way it feels about tax time?
We can't hire a spiritual accountant to deal with God. Each one of us is going to give our own account of our lives to God. It had better be dealt with, with a healthy respect. Because just like the IRS agents are living and active, so is the Word of God. It is not a passive, dead book. It is just as applicable to us today as it was when it was written; and God warns us of the consequences of taking His word lightly.
He tells us His word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It is penetrating. I view the two edges of the Gospel as a Gospel that both condemns and saves. The same Gospel that condemns the sinner will save the faithful follower of God. This Gospel sword will lay open and reveal our spiritual life (dividing the soul and the spirit), our physical life (bone and marrow) and all our motives (intentions of the hearts). That's a rather frightening thought. More frightening than the IRS laying open and revealing our financial affairs. The IRS might fine or punish us for our mistakes, but that will be over within some matter of time. If our spiritual affairs are not in order, we're told that the Lord's punishment is eternal damnation in a lake that burns with fire and sulfur and exclusion from His promised REST. Revelation 20:10-15, Matthew 25:41, Mark 9:48, Revelation 21:8.
If you do a good job on your taxes and get a favorable financial review from the IRS, they will reward you by leaving you alone. If we receive a favorable review from God when it is our soul's inspection time, our reward will be beyond our greatest expectations. Our rest will be superior to the rest the Israelites received in Canaan.
Revelation 21 gives us a description of that land of rest - actual or symbolic. (These things were not true of the Israelites' rest in Canaan.)
The Water of Life will be there, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. The River will flow through the middle of the street of the city. The Tree of Life, with its twelve kinds of fruit constantly producing, will be there with its healing leaves.
We'll be in the company of the saints, the pure, the cleansed - those whose names are written in the Book of Life. We'll be worshipping God and the Lamb. We'll behold God's face and we'll be in God's company - in communion with our Lord, for ever and ever.
Those are beautiful thoughts. There is something about putting thoughts to music that make them more touching to us. Let's end by singing some of those songs that describe heaven for us and our superior promised rest. Exhort one another in song.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR