Bit by bit, over the past couple of weeks, I have begun amassing the pile of papers that will constitute the raw material for completing my income tax return for 2010. While I don’t know many people who enjoy working on their taxes, there is one part of the exercise that is somewhat valuable. Sometimes, it’s even enjoyable…sometimes.
When I have to go through all my receipts to determine the category in which they will be used as deductions, I am able to remember, in many cases, the experience that brought about a given receipt. Maybe it was a meal with a colleague, or the purchase of a resource that had an impact on the way a message was presented. Some of those receipts bring back good memories.
Other receipts are less pleasant to tally. While I’ve done many good and enjoyable things with the kilometres I’ve driven, learning how much I spent on gasoline over the course of the year sometimes causes me to shudder. The process of preparing my tax return brings with it the good, the bad and the ugly.
When the Canada Revenue Agency receives my return, a basic check of my work will reveal whether it believes the ‘bottom line’ that I’ve derived is correct. Occasionally, the CRA will disagree and I will have to recheck my work, but most of the time, I receive a notice of assessment (and, happily, a small refund). Still, there’s always a bit of a nervous sense about submitting my own math, and accompanying paperwork, to a building full of nameless, faceless auditors who are paid to look for my mistakes.
Isn’t it great that our faith life is not like that? God is not a nameless, faceless auditor whose job it is to look for our mistakes. God is one with whom we can have a personal relationship. He does not go looking for our mistakes, because when we are in Christ, our mistakes have been pinned on Jesus, and all God sees in us is the righteousness of Jesus.
Each of us has memories of things we have done that we have enjoyed, and others that we have regretted. Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, hope that those regretted memories will go away, and we really hope that God won’t bring them up with us.
He won’t, because Jesus paid the price for those things. When we repent (turn around) and confess our sins, God has no reason to remember them. They’ve been taken care of by Jesus.
The key is belief, and trust. When we live in a relationship with God through Jesus, we are set free from our past, that we may live in God’s future.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21, NIV).
Have fun with your taxes, but be honest! The CRA may not extend as much grace as God does.