Beware the Adverb

Adverbs usually reveal the subtext. Tim Challies shows why:

There is also a kind of symbolic value to paying taxes. By paying taxes we affirm that we understand the intrinsic value of authority. Paying taxes is one very practical way that we prove our obedience to God and prove our understanding of the authority he has given to government. It’s a way in which we put our money where our mouth is.

Simple enough. But here’s a way I have to apply this: When I pay my taxes, do I pay them joyfully? It seems inconceivable that I’d be commanded to do something and then be allowed to do it hesitantly and with complaining. And I sure complain a lot about taxes. . . .

I am convicted by God that if I am to give what is owed to those who govern me, those who have been given authority by God, I must learn to give them the money they ask, but also give them the honor and respect they deserve.

How about paying taxes the Piperian way — hedonistically?

Then again, why does showing honor to civil authorities mean being joyful? There go those religious affections again.

Perhaps the Psalmist provides an alternative adverb:

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish. (Ps. 146-3-4)

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify,” honor ruling authorities distrustfully.

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36 thoughts on “Beware the Adverb

  1. I’m deeply appreciative of the way the very earnest Mr Challies has efforted diligently and dug so intentionally for new spiritual root vegetables that we must reluctantly, quiveringly, but thankfully consume as part of a daily diet meant to strengthen us in our desperate, deathly battle against the pernicious temptation to possibly pay taxes with a bad attitude. And I’m passionate about this.

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  2. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify,” honor ruling authorities distrustfully.

    Truly, the joy of 2K contained in a single sentence.

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  3. The methodology seems to be that in order to be “radically gospel-centric” you have to add burdens to others that you can’t bear yourself… Sure, I rejoice to send hard earned sweat of the brow money to people who threaten to arrest me if I don’t so they can waste almost all of it.

    As close as I can get to joy is to await heaven where my inheritance is secure… “For the joy set before him, He endured the cross, despising the shame”, that is more like what life is like here in this realm.

    Canadians seem to like to pay taxes, go figure.

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  4. Perhaps Tim is using a God-centered approach to calculating his taxes (a la Poythress in Redeeming Mathematics). I’m stuck using secular math, so my chunk of income going to Ceasar is merely paying my taxes and not a joyful act of devotion.

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  5. In accord, with this masterfully written piece, I will be certain to not take any personal exemptions which would doubtedly rob me of joy.

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  6. Who let the Baptist in? Find a new name, Baptist. Sean the Baptist! Makes about as much sense as Murphy the Sober.

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  7. I can’t tell you guys how downright exuberant I get when I pay my taxes – it brings joy to my heart to help finance the costliest War Department (DoD is for softies) on God’s green earth. I get downright giddy knowing part of my family’s hard-earned labor goes to propping up the needless wars of empire. Tingles rush to my fingertips, knowing that hours upon hours of my hard work supports a stupid war on drugs that criminalizes the poor disproportionately, as a matter of fact war on __________. I loooove knowing that the sweat of my brow goes to a cumbersome, and ethically dubious national health care system.

    The roads are nice though, and I am in favor of traffic signage, and I am down with NASA, and I don’t mind the fact that my salary supports honorable men and women who serve in government and military that genuinely care about making this country better, even if I am not politically completely on board with the purposes of the branches of government they might serve in.

    So, why can Timbo just let paying taxes be what the rest of life is under the sun, filled with good, bad, mundane, and cutting-edge? At the end of the day, after looking at my paycheck, or when tax season rolls around, I basically shrug my shoulders and think, “meh, well at least I’m not Canadian.”

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  8. If Challies is right there would never have been a ‘Merica. The colonists should have shut up, paid the tax, bought the tea, and drank it with passionate, joyish fervor. We would have just been known as England’s Most Awesome Colony forever, and Canada would have been called That Part Nobody Wants to Visit instead of ‘Merica Jr. Or it would have made a great penal colony instead of Australia.

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  9. “There go those religious affections again.”

    you mean, there goes that Spirit fruit again.. pleeease no

    Gal 5:22-23 + Rom 8:23 – there is no conflict

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  10. Per Tim:

    I am convicted by God that if I am to give what is owed to those who govern me, those who have been given authority by God, I must learn to give them the money they ask, but also give them the honor and respect they deserve.

    1) I’m fine giving government what it’s owed so long as it doesn’t take more than it needs–which it does.
    2) I’m fine giving government what it needs so long as it uses its authority in a way which does not abuse it’s people–which it doesn’t.
    3) I’m fine giving the government the honor and respect it deserves–which is little if any.
    4) Government doesn’t ask–it takes. And if you don’t give it locks you in jail.

    I fear that many people who are so adamant of the Christian’s responsibility to joyfully love government spend so much time looking inward they have no idea what’s actually going on in government. That’s what galls me about this attitude. We are expected to sacrifice the expectation of justice at the altar of our affections just so we can feel better about our walk with Jesus.

    Yuck.

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  11. DD, adverbial piety is a bother. But when you say you’re fine with certain gives so long as the takes correspond, are you really saying anything meaningful? Like Peter asks: “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?” Quid pro quo is how the world works.

    Plus, are you saying you’re not good with giving government what it’s owed if it takes more than it needs? So then what? Do you refuse to give (not allowed)? Or do you give grousely (which is adverbial)? But then Peter again:”But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” Give and endure, adverb free.

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  12. Zrim

    I didn’t write that, but before I clarify, is it your opinion that the Christian’s response to a corrupt and abusive government is contentment and passivity so that the status quo remains in place? Because if it is, then yes, we’re on a different page, and there’s not much more to say. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, I’m just seeking clarification.

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  13. DD, no. The point is submission and obedience and that adverb free. Your earlier comment comes off as cynical and like the flip side of Challies’ joyful-o-sity.

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  14. 2nd Corinthians
    4:17-For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison….

    11:24-Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25-Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26-on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27-in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28-And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29-Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

    I have no problems.

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  15. Greg the cookie monster,

    And if you ever do have problems, remember what you’ve read:

    Were there no hardship in poverty, no pain in disease, no sting in ignominy, no fear in death, where would be the fortitude and moderation in enduring them? But while every one of these, by its inherent bitterness, naturally vexes the mind, the believer in this displays his fortitude, that though fully sensible of the bitterness and labouring grievously, he still withstands and struggles boldly; in this displays his patience, that though sharply stung, he is however curbed by the fear of God from breaking forth into any excess; in this displays his alacrity, that though pressed with sorrow and sadness, he rests satisfied with spiritual consolation from God.

    -John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 8

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  16. My point is, that as repugnant and corrupt and immoral as today’s taxation has become in this country, if Paul can call that list “light and momentary affliction”, I won’t be the one refusing the Joy of the Lord over some money.

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  17. Hey, it just hit me — I’ve got an adverb in my name! Also, “terribly” is an adverb, too — but does not describe your latest efforts, Gregulus. “Greggish” may become an adjective in these parts though, as in “I went on a Greggish tirade at the office this morning.”

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