Give God what is His


            Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle him in his talk.  And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of truth; nor do you care about anyone, for you do not regard the person of men.  Tell us, therefore what do you think?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 

            But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites?  Show me the tax money?”  So they brought him a denarius.  And he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

            They said to him, “Caesar’s.”

            And he said to them, “Render therefore to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 

            When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him and went their way (Mathew 22: 15-22.)


            The Romans conquered the Nation of Israel in the first century prior to the birth of Jesus Christ.  Like all empires, they survived by forcibly imposing taxes on those they had conquered.  The Jews were a very prideful people; they despised the Romans and hated paying them taxes.   Pontius Pilate (Roman Governor of Judea), like many predecessors, was continually putting down attempted rebellions through displays of extreme violence.  In the midst of this chaos God’s Son was teaching throughout the nation; the people loved him.  The religious leaders hated him; they were constantly searching for ways to discredit him.  Jesus taught openly for all to hear, answering all the questions he was asked.  The Religious leaders sought to exploit this openness; they came to him with a ‘loaded question.’  ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?’  The people of Israel loved Jesus, but despised the Roman taxes.  If Jesus had said, ‘Yes,’ the religious leaders would have defamed him before the people as being ‘pro-roman.’  If Jesus answered no, then the ‘Herodians’ could accuse him of insurrection and rebellion against Roman Rule; a crime punishable by death (the religious leaders had purposefully brought a group of ‘Herodians’ with them when they asked their question in case he said ‘no.’)  His answer was far more correct than just a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ and it left his accusers speechless, and inspired awe in the hearts of everyone who was listening.  “Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s, but give to God what is God’s.”  In his answer there were two distinct value systems; worldly possessions and heavenly possessions.  They had been paying their taxes to Caesar, but they had been withholding their hearts from God.  God created every man woman and child, just as Caesar had created every Roman coin.  They were willing to give Caesar what he had created; in like manner, Jesus called them all to acknowledge God as their creator, and to place their lives back in to His possession.

            There are many necessities for living.  Working is one of those things.  Everyone has to work; if you don’t work, you can’t eat.  A paycheck is necessary; you buy food with it, you pay your rent with it; you exchange it for whatever it is that you need.  God does not want his believers to run out and quit their jobs because they appear to be ‘worldly.’  Work is giving to “Ceasar the things that are Caesars.”  People who make a decision to follow God need to pay bills; this is the way of the world.  A believer submits and gives to God the things that belong to Him.  When a believer gives God their heart, whether they sell tile, or serve food in a restaurant, the work they do is no longer done selfishly just for financial gain; instead, work becomes a way to serve God by serving others.  Not everyone needs to change careers to serve God; they can change their hearts and keep their careers.  When I was out of work for a short time, I kept trying to get a job at a church because everything else seemed menial.  My mother said to me, “You can serve God wherever you work.”  Her statement was very true; my heart was what God demanded, at all times.  I didn’t need to be a pastor or a priest to be Godly; we all have to receive worldly wages, but in so doing we can also receive Godly wages because our hearts belong to Him.

            Today, the number of possible careers is seemingly endless; in order to live and survive, Christian and non-Christian alike must “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  However, only a believer can also “give to God what is God’s.”  Give your heart to God continually; wherever you are; you can serve God by serving others; in the workplace, at the coffee shop, even at church.  You will never know what is truly valuable until you give your whole life over to God.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we know that we must be in this world, but we ask you to possess our hearts; take control of our lives, no matter where we are.  Help us to bring glory to You, and to be motivated, knowing that You are always watching us.  We give our lives to You now, for You are our God, and we are Your people.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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