“Some Pharisees and supporters of Herod were sent to Jesus to trap him into saying something for which he could be arrested. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?” Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them.”
Since it is tax day, I thought I might take the opportunity to say a few things about what Jesus said about taxes. Notice that his interchange with the Pharisees and the Herodians wasn’t about the tax rate or about Roman governance. Jesus was asked the general question, “Is it right to pay taxes”? His answer was, “Yes”. Most of us understand that. In fact, we don’t really have a lot of opposition to the idea of paying taxes. Governments are instituted by God for our benefit, and it costs money for them to operate. On the other hand, we might have some questions about the tax rates. And probably many of us have questions about how our dollars are being used . . . but that is a voting problem – we may get back to that in November.
Like it or not, Jesus affirms that we should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; that is the right thing to do.
In my mind, the bigger question relates to the other part of Jesus’ statement. Jesus also said, with equal authority, “. . . give to God what belongs to God.” So what did he mean by that? Was he talking about tithing? Do you think he might have been thinking about the time you spend in worship or bible study or Christian service? Could he have been talking about how you use your spiritual gifts to glorify Him? I would have to check “all of the above.” Why? Because our time, talent, and treasure do belong to God; we are just stewards (managers) of them.
I’m sure you are all law-abiding citizens who will fill out your tax forms with godly integrity and fulfill you obligations to pay Caesar. I applaud you for doing what is “right.” Just don’t forget the other part, OK?
Pastor Keith Andrews