I don't like paying taxes. I especially don't like the whole process of filing taxes here in the United States. It's amazing how complicated our tax code has gotten. In 1913, the tax code was just over 400 pages long. The instructions for filing consisted of two pages. In 2008, the code had grown to over 67,000 pages; the instructions for filling out the basic form, the 1040, had grown to 155 pages. The complexity of accurately filing taxes fuels an entire tax-preparation industry. Because of that, most of us feel a bit of anxiety when filing taxes: Did I get everything right?

Some people feel a similar anxiety when they think about God. Did I get everything right? Have I made amends for all the bad things I've done? Have I done enough good things? Did I say the right words, go to the right places, think the right thoughts? Even though the Bible isn't as long as the U.S. tax code, the consequences of being wrong can fill anyone's heart with fear.

If you feel nervous when you think about standing before God on the Day of Judgment, you might be surprised at something the apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Peace? Peace with God? How can we have peace with God when we have to constantly worry about getting everything right in order to please him? The answer to that question is, we can't. If our being right with God depends on us and what we've done, we'll never be at peace. But look at the first part of what Paul says: "Since we have been justified through faith." We can have peace with God because our future doesn't depend on us doing everything right. Writing to the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). It's not about what we've done; it's about being saved through faith in the gift that God has to offer us.

God expects us to respond to him in faith, committing ourselves to change our lives, washing away our sins in baptism. But none of that is done as a work, none of that is done to earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God, and we can rest assured that God wants to give it to us. We might worry when we mail in our taxes, but when it comes to being right with God, peace should be all we feel. If you don't feel at peace about your relationship with God, write to me at tim@hopeforlife.org or leave a comment on our HopeforLife.org blog.

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