Just two days to go. Just two days before "IT" has to be in the mail. Just two days until the package that evryone dreads sending must be postmarked. Just two days until many must part with their hard earned cash to satisfy the demands of their government. Just two days left before the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Government must be given the taxes that are due for the year 2003.

Ever listen to the disdain with which most people talk about the I. R. S.? Ever hear someone actually talking to an I. R. S. agent? It can be rather frightening. Usually mild mannered people suddenly become raving epithet shouting morons, implying that the I. R. S. agent has never had a legitimate marriage in their family for generations. I have often wondered why people do that. What is particularly disturbing is when Christians behave in such a way to tax collectors.

A friend of mine, who runs his own business, was going off on the I. R. S. one day when I was shopping in his store. I picked an item from the shelf and took it to his cash register. He rang it up and said, "That'll be seven forty-one, please." "But," I replied, "the tag says it's only six ninety-nine." "Six percent tax. You know that." "So," I began slowly, "you're a tax collector for the state government?"

I. R. S. agents are nothing more than people who work for a living just like you and me. They don't make the rules they just live by them; and they pay taxes, too. We Christians should take our lead from Jesus in dealing with tax collectors. He treated them with dignity and respect. He even included one in His personal cadre of friends by calling Matthew to follow Him. Matthew 9:9 The greatest extension was to a man named Zacchaeus.

Jesus honored Zacchaeus by inviting Himself to Zacchaeus' house for the day amidst cat calls from those around them who called Zacchaeus a sinner. Jesus was merely doing what He came to do. Zacchaeus needed to change; not his employment but his method of carrying it out. Jesus' self-professed reason for coming to the world was given in response. "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10 By the way, that includes you and me. So lay the I. R. S. complaints to rest. Jesus did.