Render to Caesar

November 23, 2021

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 Caesar the things that are Caesar'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 (Matthew 22:18-22).

Someone said, “You can be certain of two things in life - death and taxes.” Just like the Israelites in the days of Jesus, people today hate paying taxes. They don’t mind receiving the benefits of government, they just despise paying for those benefits. The truth be known, people can be just as greedy as the government is, which makes them as hypocritical as the government.

The response of Jesus to the Pharisees and Herodians was a fundamental truth for all citizens of the state, including Christians. Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Christians are obligated to support, through taxes, the government that provides certain services that Christians enjoy. (Rom 13:1-2,6-7) Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. . . . For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

“But the government is corrupt and self-serving and takes advantage of its citizens.” That may be true, but it is not ironic that Jesus said to pay taxes to whom taxes are due when those governments, both Roman and Jewish, put Him to death on the cross. Through the Apostle Peter He said, Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Peter 2:13-15). Did not the Roman government put Peter and James and Paul to death? Yes. But that does not negate God’s purpose in providing governmental authority so that human society would not fall into self-destruction. As bad as human government can be - and it can be rotten to the core, Jesus instructs His disciples, and His church, to submit to the authority of government and to pay taxes in support of government. The only exception being when that government oversteps its authority by attempting to control the Kingdom of Christ through His church. At that point we are to be as the Apostle Peter and respond, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

“While I do not always agree with the government that rules over me, Lord, I am grateful that it does provide freedoms here that many Christians do not enjoy in other countries. Help me to honor Your words and fulfill my obligation to the government and not just to Your Kingdom. It is for Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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