Church and politics are often at odds with one another. Some Christians want to bring godliness to the nation’s rule and some want nothing to do with it at all. God was the one who established municipal order. He taught Moses about civil rule (Ex 18). He set His laws in stone so the people would understand how to live holy lives (Ex 20). And He decreed offerings and sacrifices to support the community. There were financial civic obligations for every Israelite, just as there are today – AKA taxes. Why am I writing about taxes today? Because Jesus addressed them and so must we. But hang with me because this is about more than a Form 1040.
When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees about paying taxes to Caesar, He knew that they were trying to trap Him. (Read Matthew 22:15-22.) They – and pretty much all the Jews –resented having to pay taxes to the hated Roman government. And they hated Jesus too. If He were to say paying taxes was right, the Jewish people who loved Him so would change their minds. Jesus called for a denarius coin that was the required tax. He asked, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” (v. 20). They replied, “Caesar’s” (v. 21). To which Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s . . .” In other words, because the coin bore the image of Caesar it should be given to Caesar, it was his rightful due.
But the point of this exchange came next. Jesus then said “. . . and [give] to God what is God’s.” I always thought that this was referring to the “temple tax” – the one-half shekel per year for every Jewish male over 20. But when I slow down and consider the context, I see something different. What bears God’s image? What is God’s that should be given to Him? Man. You and me.
Man was created in God’s image (Gen 1:27) and bears the Imago Dei. The name of our Creator is written in our DNA. We belong to God. We are His “rightful due.” Those who deny this truth will shake their fists at Him and turn away, but some will believe. They will receive the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. And they will honor their Creator. Beloved, you belong to God. Not just your money or your time, but your life, your heart, your mind, your soul, and your body are all His. Come to the Lord today. You will never fulfill your purpose until you give it all to Him.