S (Scripture): Luke 20:21 Thus they asked [Jesus], “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar or not?” 23 But Jesus perceived their deceit and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 So he said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 Thus they were unable in the presence of the people to trap him with his own words. And stunned by his answer, they fell silent.
O (Observation): The religious leaders once again lay a trap for Jesus. They want to get him in trouble with the political leaders and the religious leaders. They want Jesus to choose to pay tribute tax or not.
If Jesus says “yes,” then that will show his loyalty is to the caeser, and not God. But if he says “no,” then they can bring Jesus up on charges with the government.
Instead, Jesus separates giving tribute to God and giving tribute to the caeser. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Jesus knows that the earthly systems are in place for social structure, and are to be given their due attention. Yet Jesus recognizes that a difference between a tax and a tithe exists. If contributing to the earthly ruler, just remember that this does not supplant the recognition you are to give to God.
It’s both/and for Jesus…not either/or.
A (Application): We all pay taxes. We all find ourselves in a system that causes us to give to the government so that our roads can be kept up nicely and so that we can pay teachers to educate our children and young men and women.
Yet we also give to God. We give our time, talents and treasures to God to honor God with what God has first given us.
This lesson of course is more than just about taxes. What we do and say has implications in a secular and religious manner. When we take action in this world, we live within the law and also live to God. When we discern that giving to one runs counter to the other, then we can challenge these choices and see where our faith leads us.
But if giving to the worldly things does not make us run counter to God, then perhaps we have room for it.
What are some ways we give to “caeser” that are not against God?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to be faithful in our giving to this world and to you. Amen.