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God’s Dependents

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:15-16)

When you start at any job, you fill out a certain amount of paperwork, which must always include the W-4 form. This form is used to determine the amount of income tax that is withheld from your paycheck, which largely depends on how many withholding allowances you claim. For some, it’s a no-brainer, a quick formality that is probably forgotten until a future tax return produces unexpected results. Others may follow the step-by-step worksheet provided on the form and carefully weigh numbers before deciding on the number of allowances and whether to withhold an additional amount.

During our recent 24 Hours of Prayer, we had the opportunity to connect with God through four different themed prayer stations, one of which was dependence. It was there, strangely enough, that I suddenly thought of the W-4. As the primary payroll person at my company, I see it regularly, and the first line of the allowance worksheet jumped out in my mind. It reads, “Enter ‘1’ for yourself if no one else can claim you as a dependent.

In a moment of surrender, I was amazed to realize that while I may claim this allowance for job compensation, I cannot when I think of my life as a whole. I dedicated my life to God through my faith in Jesus, and rely on Him for everything; therefore, He can claim me as a dependent. I have to enter ‘0’ for myself in the grand scheme of things, because without God I am nothing. I had never thought of it quite that way before.

And yet I can take the analogy even further. The fewer allowances you claim, the more tax is withheld. If you claim zero, it would mean seeing less money in each check, but a greater amount applied against your total taxes each year. That would reduce the amount you have to pay when you file your tax return, or perhaps prevent you from having to pay at all (or increase your refund). If we are willing to take less time and resources for ourselves and give more to God, we will have to work harder and probably not be able to relax or enjoy ourselves as much in the process, but think of how much more He could give back to us!

Our human nature makes all self-centered to some degree. It is not easy to admit that we are not in control and have to depend on someone else, or not to take some amount of credit for our successes. But the critical first step is the confession that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and the willingness to follow and depend on Him. The action is up to us; Jesus cannot do it for us. When He said, “I am the bread of life,” He did not go on to say, “I have to come to feed everyone so that they will not go hungry.” Rather, He said, “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35, my paraphrase). In fact, the only one of the “I Am” declarations where Jesus implied action on Himself is when He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Think of it… Jesus paid the ultimate tax, His own life, to get all of us as a return – to communion with God.

Wherever and whenever we feel burdened or pressured in our lives, even if we have dependents of our own, we must not be ashamed of being or hesitant to be dependents ourselves. We must deny ourselves our personal allowances and let God be in control, to direct and inspire us. One way or another, He will remove whatever is taxing us.

Daniel can be reached via email here.

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