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Feb 11, 2020 08:00am
Asking the Cold, Hard Questions at Tax Time
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What is success?

Many people spend their whole lives being “successful.” 

But what does that really mean? 

Is it the American dream? Is it having the golden retriever in the big backyard with the white picket fence, a large house, driving a Cadillac or a sports car, having several children who also grow up to be “successful,” marrying someone attractive, having plenty of money for family cruises and trips to Disney, etc.? 

Now, don’t get me wrong, none of those things are inherently bad . . . but they become bad when they are our primarily goals in life. 

We can say we love Jesus in one sentence, probably on Sunday, and then live the rest of the week for ourselves. 

What motivates you? Is it having more money, living more comfortably or being a well-known person? 

Tax season is here. This time of year, we look at how much we have earned and also how much we have given (to get that deductible, right?) 

Let me ask you a question. If tithing wasn’t beneficial for your taxes, would you give as much? 

Or, let me ask you another question, have you really given God what he deserves this year? 

Tithing can show a person’s heart. 

If I am not willing to give God 10% of everything I monetarily own, how can God expect me to give him 100% of my soul?

Are we willing to give God all of us, even if it literally costs us something? 

There are people I know, and probably you know personally, who have literally sacrificed everything to serve God. 

I think about all the missionaries who give up the comforts of homes, the nearness of their families, everything they have ever known. And these missionaries don’t always go to comfortable places . . . Sometimes, they go to places they can be jailed or killed for because of who they believe in. 

I think about those who are called to ministry in general. And not to be the next TV-star pastor making millions of dollars and writing books and making even more millions of dollars. 

Those people who were planning on being doctors, or lawyers or dentists or name a “successful” career field. And then God called them, and their entire worlds changed. Their priorities changed. They were willing to give up what the world says is “successful” to serve Jesus. 

And then there are those people in the background who serve Jesus with everything. We may not see or notice them, but they are the people who give more than they have, who go the extra mile to take care of someone (even strangers), and they are the people who love the orphans, widows, sick and disenfranchised. 

Every person has a calling. Every person God has a mission. Do you want to know if you are living out your calling? 

Do you want to know how close you are to Jesus, right now? 

When was the last time you sacrificed for the kingdom of God? 

When was the last time you suffered spiritually? 

When was the last time it actually cost you something to follow Jesus? 

When was the last time you decided to give Jesus everything??

And I’m not innocent here, either. This lesson is just as much a reminder for me as it can be for you. 

But the point is, Christians should have a different view of success. 

I should have a different view of success. I should want Jesus first, and whatever he has for me, even if it means giving up a job that might make more money or makes me more “successful.” 

Even if it means complete and total surrender to the all-seeing and all-powerful God and forsaking my pride, money or potential prestige. 

Even if it means it hurts. And it’s trusting that God will provide for my needs. 

My challenge for all of us today, me included, is to think about what success really means in our lives. 

When all is said and all is done and when we are in the dust of the earth, what will we want to have accomplished? 

We can’t take riches and comforts with us in the afterlife. (Sorry, pharaohs of Egypt. You were probably disappointed.) 

What we can do is share the love of Jesus. That has an eternal impact, because people are immortal; objects, monetary success, and prestige are not. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made this point: 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-24)

Where, or what, is your greatest treasure? 

That will tell you what your heart is following, where your priorities lie and what you measure as success.  

Are you successful in the eyes of man or successful in God’s eyes? 

What type of success are you pursuing? As you file your taxes and look through the cold, hard, numbers, do they reveal to you where your true treasure lies? 

Copyright © 2020 by Melody Turner. Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.