In Matthew 22:21 when questioned about paying taxes Jesus said, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (You would have thought the chapter and verse in Matthew’s gospel would have been 10:40, but I digress.)
Every year about this time, I wish Jesus had said something like, “forget paying your stinking taxes” or even “if the government is corrupt or full of hot air or in some other way messed up then you get a pass.” Remember Jesus died on a Roman cross, you’d have thought he might have taken issue with an unjust government. But He didn’t say such things. What he did say was “Pay Caesar.” Jesus also said (in the same sentence no less) to also afford to God what is God’s. It seems that most law-abiding citizens grudgingly abide with the former, “Like death and taxes… everybody’s got to pay up;” but they tend to be a tad forgetful about the latter.
What does “giving God what is God’s” look like?
The fact is I owe God everything. I wouldn’t be here with out His divine intervention in my life. (You probably wouldn’t be here either). So I think “giving to God what is God’s” looks a lot like giving him first place in our lives; first place in our hearts; and first place in our priorities.
As frequently happens, Tax Day (April 15—or as it is known around our house, “Blood from a Turnip“ Day) and Holy Week fall in the same week. Maybe that’s the way it should be. We rendering to Caesar (or Uncle Sam) during the week and remember the journey of Jesus the rest of the week. When I focus on the price that was paid for my salvation, I am left to conclude as the old song proclaims: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.” And in the end that’s what “rendering to God what is God’s” means. It’s giving him myself, not just what is on the bottom line of an IRS form.