Vol. 4, No. 6
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Have you ever heard anyone talking about taxes? You may have heard your parents talk about them. Most people think that they have to pay too much in taxes. But a Christian knows that the government has a right to ask its people to pay taxes. A good government will use the tax money to pay for those things that government has a right to be involved in, like a military.
The Romans had a tax system during the time that Jesus lived. The Roman government had tax collectors. These tax collectors would hire other people to do their work for them. These individuals were known as publicans. Usually, there was a chief publican who supervised all the other publicans.
The Roman government did not care what the publicans charged the people in taxes as long as the government got the money they were supposed to get. Many times the publicans would charge the people much more than what they were supposed to charge. They would give the proper amount to the government but keep the rest for themselves. The publicans became wealthy men with this dishonest practice. And the chief publican became very wealthy.
The Jews hated the publican. A publican was not allowed to give testimony in a Jewish court. A synagogue would not accept a gift from a publican. The publican was regarded the same as a murderer. Of course, the Roman rulers and wealthy elite considered the publicans as "the flower of knighthood, the ornament of the state, and the strength of the republic." Cicero even called them "the most upright and respected men."
In Luke 19:1-9, you can read about a chief publican, Zachaeus. He is a well-known person in the Bible. Zachaeus decided to follow Jesus. He told Jesus that he would make all things right concerning the way he had cheated people out of their money. Jesus accepted his repentance.
It does not matter how well we are respected by those of the world. What matters is whether or not we follow Jesus. Zachaeus was well respected by the Romans. But he was not living right. He was willing to trade the respect of the Romans for the respect of God.
It does not matter how evil someone has been. He still needs to hear the Gospel of Christ. He needs to be given the opportunity to hear the Truth and an opportunity to repent. The Jews would never approach a publican and try to teach him, even if the publican showed some interest. But Jesus showed them that all men need God. Jesus was willing to meet with him and teach him.
Study God's word, the Bible. In it, you will read what you need to know to live right. And you will learn what you need to know to teach others how to live right.
There are some in the religious world today who are saying some wrong things about God. They say that God did not really give us specific things in the Bible to know and obey. They say that we cannot know what God wants us to do.
These individuals think that God is so smart and so intelligent that we cannot possibly understand what he wants us to do. They believe that there is no way that God can get down on our level of thinking to say what he wants us to know. So, they say that he just gave us some cloudy principles to learn. Some, who teach this, say that there is God-talk and then there is man-talk, and that there is no proper translator between the two.
But there is a Scripture in Jonah that shows all of this thinking to be wrong. In Jonah 2:10, we read, "And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land." Does that sound like God had a hard time telling the fish what to do? Does that sound like the fish did not understand what God told it to do?
A fish is not near as smart as one of us. God made us a lot smarter than any fish. In Jonah 3:1-2, God tells Jonah what he wants him to do. Jonah had just been vomited up on dry land by a fish. Did Jonah have any trouble understanding what God wanted him to do? Did God have trouble telling Jonah what he wanted him to do?
Do not let anyone tell you that God has trouble telling us what he wants us to do. God created us. If he created us, he surely can talk to us in language we can understand. And he created us with a mind to understand what he wants us to do to obey him.
Keep studying God's Word, the Bible. It contains what God wants us to know. He gave us a mind to read and study it. Get the wisdom of God. And if any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.