Then Jesus said unto them, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:21 KJV
It seems to me that in this country – the United States of America – there’s really not a whole lot that we believe belongs to “Caesar,” to the government, or – for that matter – even God.
Problem is we think it’s all ours.
Mine, mine, mine, and I’ll give it away – or not – to anyone or anything that I choose. Nobody can tell me what to do with what’s rightfully mine!
But it isn’t ours, the Bible teaches. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” – Psalm 24:1
TAXES: This morning, just a few minutes ago, I hit “send” on the computer, and someone over at Wake Forest Federal Savings & Loan probably heard a loud sucking sound come from the vaults as a boatload of money was spirited away and into the coffers of the United States Treasury.
Ouch, that really, really hurt. Like they say, “That’s gonna leave a mark…’
At the same time, my men’s Saturday morning Bible-study is deep into a book about giving, generosity, stewardship of our resources, and “Living a biblical lifestyle.”
What is mine? What exactly does belong to the city? the state? The federal government? God?
MINE! When I collected money from my Wednesday evening group for the homeless outreach, and when we shared a meal with folk who live on the streets in our city (read “Feeding Jesus“), were we giving them something that was ours? Or were we simply returning to them what already belongs to all of us?
When my grandfather started his business, was it for the purpose of enriching himself? or did he use his resources and his gifts to create good-paying jobs for people in his community, and to fund missionary work overseas?
I am well housed. I can eat pretty much anything I like when I am hungry. I have decent clothing, and I everything else that I really need. I have running water, electricity, and reliable transportation. I feel safe, because I am. I am at liberty to travel, and I enjoy the freedom to write or share anything that I’m thinking with anyone that I want to.
I lack for nothing.
But is it mine? Or am I simply the interim caretaker of resources that have temporarily fallen into my purview.
GOD IS WITH US! I believe I am generous, and I say that I love to give things away. The one part of the tax return I enjoy is the place where I get to feel good about what we have donated to a variety of charitable ventures. But why should I take credit for generosity, when all we’re really doing is redistributing some of the bounty that has landed in our zone of operation?
“Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple… In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one of God’s people. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'” – Zechariah 8:13,23
So I looked under every mattress, and in every corner, and under the seat cushions to scrape up enough in order to fund Uncle Sam for another year.
But it’s all right. Seriously. Because here’s what Rebekah and I think about money. We don’t work in order to earn money. We earn money so that we can do the work God has called us to do. I am quite confident that we will both be able to continue to apply all the creativity and passion and joy that we have to the important opportunities that are at hand.
We don’t work in order to earn money. We earn money so that we can do the work God has called us to do.
Grateful – DEREK
Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
His reply amazed them, and they went away. – Mathew 22:15-22