THE SERVANT GENERAL
GIVING TO CAESAR AND TO GOD
October 16, 2011
Today’s reading: Matthew 22:15-21
Pharisees try to entrap Jesus in his speech (Mt 22:15).
They oppose the Roman occupation, while the Herodians
support Herod Antipas, tetrach of Galilee and Perea,
thereby supporting the Roman administration of Palestine.
Thus in asking Jesus whether it was lawful to pay
the census tax to Caesar or not (Mt 22:17), they thought
they had placed him in a no-win situation. To say
yes would be to incur the wrath of the people, while
to say no would be to bring him into conflict with
the Roman occupiers.
Jesus did was to ask them for the coin used to pay
the census tax, and asked them whose image was on
the coin (Mt 22:19-20). They replied, “Caesar’s”
(Mt 22:21a). At that Jesus said, “Then repay
to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs
to God.” (Mt 22:21b).
reply was very profound. One may use the coin to repay
Caesar, because the coin bears Caesar’s image
and so belongs to him. On the other hand, people are
made in the image and likeness of God. Bearing God’s
image, we belong to Him. As such, we should repay
God with what is due to Him.
What is of course due to God is our very life, Jesus
having paid for our life on the cross. Also, we are
to do good deeds that reflect the love for God and
His people that we owe to Him. Further, since everything
belongs to God, including our finances, we are to
be proper stewards.
the area of finances, how do we repay to God? “In
tithes and in offerings!” (Mal 3:8c). When we
do not return to God, we rob Him! (Mal 3:7b-8a). When
we rob God, then we are accursed (Mal 3:9). When we
are accursed, we miss out on the bountiful blessings
to come with honoring God with our finances (Mal 3:10).
It is said that there are two things one cannot avoid
in life--death and taxes (of course some try very
hard to avoid or evade the latter!). The government
imposes its taxes (and rightly so) and already deducts
it from people’s paychecks so that we receive
an amount net of taxes (for employees). Government
would say it is its right to do that in order to support
its governance work, just as it is our obligation
to pay taxes as part of our right and privilege as
we are citizens of the Kingdom, and we do have the
obligation to support God’s work. But God, while
making clear our obligation, does not automatically
take the tithe. Rather, the all-powerful God waits
patiently for us to pay it.
government owns just a part of our money, while God
owns it all. The government takes its part automatically,
while God patiently waits for His share. The government
takes anywhere from 32% to over half of our income,
while God is content with 10%. Most governments misuse
our taxes, while God is perfectly just in all His
ways. Many citizens feel they only get a trickle of
the benefits that come from government, while God
opens the floodgates and pours down blessings without
measure (Mal 3:10c).
repay to Caesar (I hope you do!). Now repay to God.