I belong to God.
You know, it’s a funny thing. I must have read and reread countless times the part in the gospels when Jesus is questioned about taxes, but I never quite got the metaphor – until today! In Luke 20:19-26, the scribes and chief priests in Jerusalem attempt to corner Jesus by asking him if it is lawful (referring to the Law given to Moses in the book of Exodus) to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus, knowing their intentions, asks for a coin and responds with a question of his own: “Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They say it is Caesar’s, to which Jesus then says, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The scribes and chief priests were speechless.
Jesus wasn’t setting up a dichotomy here as if our politics and beliefs are mutually exclusive. Far from it! In fact, Jesus was alluding to the fact that all of mankind was created in the image of God – and therefore we belong to Him! Whether we like it or not, we’ve all been stamped with his image (Ezekiel 18:4, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It follows, then, that everything we own is also His property – and that’s where most of us – myself included – get tripped up.
We like claim ownership of things. You get a job, you work your tail off, and you get your reward in the form of a paycheck. You put in the long hours, so it’s your money to do with as you please, right? Sure. you’ll give some of it away. Maybe to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Perhaps you even tithe regularly to your church. But you’ve got to leave enough money in the bank for your own personal entertainment, right? It’s just a matter of adjusting your budget so you can use your money a you please while still being able to say that you support a good cause. If you really believe that you’re the owner of your finances, then this might sound like a good plan to you. But it’s not God’s plan (Proverbs 16:9), and it’s not really your money.
Heck, it’s not even your job. You only have it because God blessed you with the right set of knowledge and skills. Everything you have – everything you are – is a gift from God. And He gives us the freedom to use our gifts however we see fit. But, going back to what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Luke, we ought not to forget that we are branded with His image and have been entrusted with His blessings. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”`~Proverbs 16:3
What’s the practical application, then? The way I see, I need to start looking at things differently. The first step is to recognize that everything I “own” actually belongs to God. Next step, I need to reflect on how I’ve been using the things God has entrusted to me ( time, money, job, computer, TV, books, etc.). Have I committed them to the Lord? Am I using them in a way that brings glory and honor to God? Or, am I acting like an owner – justifying my actions because I believe I’ve earned the right?
There is much more I would like to say on this subject, but it’s getting very late, and I have work tomorrow. A potentially controversial topic like this is likely to generate a response. So, If anyone reads this and has a question or comment, feel free to message me. I just might respond to it in a future post.
God bless and good night!