Luke and The Lost
“One thing that you can be sure of in this world is death and taxes”. This quote began, with other variations, from Benjamin Franklin. I like what a fellow Oklahoman, Will Rogers added, “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
When we talk finances we either get excited or, more often, very pale. Talk of taxes seem to turn our stomachs upside down more than the talk of death. For believers we know where we are going after leaving earth. So why are taxes and paying our bills as requested on earth such a pain and worry? Taxes are due to help pay for the services our government provides. Is it too much and ever increasing, probably. But we can vote to change the current circumstance. Not so in Jesus’ day.
The people were under Roman rule. They had no choice but to pay taxes. Death or jail was certain if they didn’t! Fair? Jesus has an answer for the tax question that baffled the spies sent by the religious elite to trip him up. They wanted Jesus to say something revolutionary against the oppressive government so they could bring him up on trumped up charges. They couldn’t find anything wrong with his teaching of God’s Law. So they tried to use the government to help them get rid of Jesus…or so they thought.
Luke 20, The Message
20-22 Watching for a chance to get him, they sent spies who posed as honest inquirers, hoping to trick him into saying something that would get him in trouble with the law. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you’re honest and straightforward when you teach, that you don’t pander to anyone but teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23-24 He knew they were laying for him and said, “Show me a coin. Now, this engraving, who does it look like and what does it say?”
25 “Caesar,” they said.
Jesus said, “Then give Caesar what is his and give God what is his.”
26 Try as they might, they couldn’t trap him into saying anything incriminating. His answer caught them off guard and left them speechless.
What do we learn?
–Notice that Jesus didn’t give them a financial three point sermon on tithing. (ALL belongs to God.)
–He gave them an object lesson to point out that man-made things of this world belong in this world. Caesar had a corrupt system to raise money for the government. Even so, pay the tax.
–Everything created by God belongs to God…that means us. We belong to God. We are of greater value to God. We need to give ourselves back to God. We must give our minds, hearts and souls. We obey with paying taxes as directed by this world…but paying taxes and working to pay bills should not get top billing in our lives.
–Think more about God and what HE wants and worry less about world stuff. God will provide…
–Remember when Peter was sent to fish, (what He loved doing and was His life’s work before Jesus), in order to pull out the coins from the catch of the day to pay taxes? He had enough for Jesus and the followers! Mm.
–Money and taxes belong to this world. It’s our man-made trading system. But our very souls belong to God. We are in this world but not OF it. Be more concerned the eternal life of our souls and complain less about paying taxes.
–“What profit is there if you gain the whole world–and lose eternal life? What can be compared with the value of eternal life?” –Jesus (Matthew 16:26)
–“The things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.” –Jesus (Luke 16:15)
So…Jesus answered, “Then give Caesar what is his and give God what is his. And try as they might, they couldn’t trap him.”
Do we leave people speechless with our Godly actions? Are we trapped in worry over world stuff?
“God so loved the world that HE GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That’s what God values. What do we value most?
Dear Heavenly Father, We can become overly obsessed with taxes, paying bills, working hard to pay bills, insurance, and other world stuff. Help us to look to you first and always. Give us wisdom in finance without becoming obsessed. Help us to give all of ourselves to You. May our lives reflect Your glory.
In Jesus Name, Amen