Give away your underwear, pay your tax, and be content

I keep coming back to John the Baptist’s pithy and precise comments on economics. It’s worth checking out the whole passage before interacting with what I’ve put below. –

Be Recklessly Generous

If you’ve got two pairs of underwear (check the footnotes people) give the spare one away to those who are lacking. No one put John forward for any prizes in personal hygeine as far as I’m aware… but this was the teaching of the greatest man born of a woman according to the narky Nazarene. If you’ve got some food in the cupboard, and your neighbour’s got none – give it away. “But what about next week?” What about it?

“Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Invest in Integrity

Do your job, respect the authority over you and don’t cheat the system. Perhaps I’m pushing too hard, but this instruction (and the absence of contrary instruction) implies John had no problem with a government collecting taxes, and therefore implicilty encourages private enterprise which will produce enough both to support oneself, be recklessly generous, and pay the taxman.

“Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”

Cultivate Calm Contentment

The fact that he’s speaking to soldiers, emphasises the last point, that the one preparing the way of the Lord should have no problem rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s. It also points to a calm contentment which has no striving to violently pursue More! How different would the world look if people followed this instruction?

“Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

I’ve seen plenty of people with integrity, ploughing away and paying their bills. Some even appear to be content with their lot, pursuing something more profound than a bigger pay packet. There are others who are recklessly generous, and make us wince as we look on, wondering about next week…

but how many of us manage to hold these three in tension?

No wonder Herod found John both pleasing and perplexing…


One thought on “Give away your underwear, pay your tax, and be content”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s