Render Unto God, The Things That are God’s

Written by Joe Dardano

In Matthew 22, the Pharisees tested Jesus about the legality of paying or not paying taxes. Jesus made it clear that as a follower of God, one must give to God what belongs to God and to the state what belongs to the state: “He said to them, Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21) The crowd heard this teaching and was amazed at the wisdom expressed by Christ. Jesus did not fall into the trap set up by the Pharisees, nor did He ignore their inquiry. He met their hypocrisy head on with a wise teaching. The implication here is that the state and its taxation structure serves a social purpose and that Jesus Christ did not come to overthrow the temporal order. Instead he inspired people to focus on the things of God, to pursue holiness as a way of living until one reaches Heaven. That being said, Jesus did not restrict on how much to give or not give to God. He wanted people to come to Him through their hearts. Recall the woman who wiped his feet with her tears: “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7: 44-47). God places not limits on how much we can love him. By the same token, as we are instructed to give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, God does not necessarily offer that same concept to give limitlessly to Caesar. In other words, it is a distortion of the Gospel to preach something like “sell all your possessions and follow Caesar.” That in itself is not Good News. Therefore, one can be assured that the proverb “give more to God and less to Caesar” fulfills the spirit of God’s plan for our lives. We need to give the minimum to Caesar, the minimum of what it demands and that is all. If we are instructed to find ways to mimimize one’s contribution to Caesar and increase exponentially one’s contribution to God, then all the better.

About the author

Joe Dardano

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