When Withholding is Stealing
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Gross and net. Yeah, that's the words that you can use to describe what you really can use from your paycheck. Gross, of course, is the total amount you get in the paycheck. Then, of course, that's not what you can use, because net is the amount that's left after taxes, right? That's what you've still got in the net. You've never even seen the government's share...and that's what's gross. Well, they call what goes to the government withholding tax. Now, it's not just the government that's in the withholding business. You and I are too, and it's gross.
Now God says to him, "I want you to take him to the mountain and sacrifice him." Now, as I said, it was a test to clarify Abraham's love. You see, it's easy for one of God's gifts to become an idol that we love more than Him. And so here is the call to sacrifice his son. Of course, as you may remember, God provides a ram that he can sacrifice instead. He calls on him to sacrifice his son, and it is a call that later God himself would respond to; only He would go all the way with the sacrifice, and sacrifice His Son on a cross for us.
Now, we go to Genesis chapter 22 and we learn about withholding. In fact, it's a key word of the passage. Genesis 22, verse 12, "'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' God says. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from Me your son...your only son.'" Verse 16 - "I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you." "You have not withheld."
Now we know that in our tax system, the money the government takes out of our paycheck is because they have prior claim to it. We don't even consider hanging onto that money. Now, with our most precious relationships and possessions, we have a choice. The government doesn't give us a choice, but we have a choice about withholding these precious things. But God has a prior claim to that loved one that you're holding so tightly. He made them. He paid for them. They're His. He has a prior claim to that house, that car, that possession you may have hung onto for yourself, to the money you want to spend mostly on your kingdom instead of His.
Yeah, God has prior claim to that position you hold or aspire to hold, to your gifts, your talents, the opportunities He's entrusted to you. They're His! He has prior claim to your children. Could it be that you are withholding them from God? Are you hanging onto something or someone you love? You have plans, and dreams, and security riding on it as Abraham did. But God's hands are reaching your way saying, "Can you trust Me with what you love so much?"
Two thousand years after this incident, God proved that He could be trusted by sacrificing His Son on that very mountain. And if you give what you love to Him, He will either improve it or replace it with something better.
Can you hear God saying, "You have not withheld from Me what you love so much. Surely I will bless you." I hope so. After all, God has prior claim, so withholding from Him - that's stealing.