1 Kings 3-5 Luke 20:1-26
“Jesus said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God the things that are God’s.’” (Luke 20:25 NCV)
Taxes are a sore subject with most people. Most people think they pay too much to the government in taxes, while those who are wealthy don’t pay enough. This happens in our representative democracy where our votes are supposed to make a difference in how much we pay in taxes. Imagine how the Jews felt in ancient Israel as they paid taxes through the nose to support Rome. Imagine the indignity of paying taxes that were then used to help keep them in subjugation to Rome. The Jews didn’t like that at all, and they had more than a few tax resistors. There were some who supported paying those taxes, so that led to tension among the Jews. One thing those who supported paying taxes to Rome and the tax resistors had in common was that they wanted to discredit Jesus, so they combined to ask Jesus another trap question. However He answered, He’d alienate a large group of His followers. Jesus’s “trap answer” stopped them in their tracks.
There are two problems with following this response from Jesus: a) we don’t agree on how much Caesar should get, and b) we don’t really give to God the things that are God’s. We piously say that everything belongs to God, but we seem to think that we get to hold onto a large percentage of what God entrusts to us for our personal use. When God calls on us to return the possessions we’ve been watching over for Him, we balk. We have payments. House payments. Car payments. Student loan payments. Credit card payments. If we gave God the things that are God’s, we wouldn’t be able to make those payments we committed to, and that would be a horrible witness. That means that the church doesn’t have enough money to do the things that the church is supposed to do, and so people turned to Caesar to take care of those things God’s people wouldn’t do. Feed the hungry. Care for the poor. Provide medical care for those in need. I could go on. We’ve forced Caesar to do the things God’s people should be doing, and then complain about paying for it. We must begin to take those things back from Caesar so that all we give “him” is what he’s responsible for. It starts by simplifying your life so you can give to your church. If God’s people gave like we should, it could end there. It includes finding other ministries to support financially. In all of that, it also includes giving your time to minister to people and show God’s compassion to them. That’s one thing the Church does that Caesar will never do. All Caesar does is write checks.
Lord, there are so many in need around us. I can’t meet all those needs, but I can begin to meet some needs. Let each one of those who claims to follow You work to meet needs. If that happened, we’d see great changes in our world.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.