Jesus taught his disciple to beware of the Pharisees. Their blindness led others astray. Instead of serving God, they served themselves. Instead of helping the needy, they fed off of orphans and widows.
So, the Pharisees decided to test Jesus. They came to him pretending to ask a sincere question of faith. “Should we pay taxes to the Romans?” The question was real. The Romans were unjust and their government enslaved people. Should God’s people support such a government?
Jesus saw right through their question was a trap. No matter what he did they would get him. If he said they should not pay taxes, they would go to the Romans and have him arrested for treason. If he said they should pay taxes, they could use that against him. They could say he did not have enough faith in God. He was more than a tax collector in religious clothing.
Jesus turned the question back on them. “Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” It was a Roman coin with the name and image of the emperor on it. So, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to him, and give to God the things that are God’s.”
Everyone repeat after me: “Give to God - the things that are God’s.” The religious leaders were not giving God what belongs to God. They were serving themselves.
“Then what is due to God?” God is due one tenth of our income. In other words, we should tithe a tenth of the money we make to the church. That tenth or tithe belongs to God. Give to God the tithe that is God’s!
Give to God the things that are God’s. Did you know the Pharisees tithed? In fact, they were probably the best tithers among God’s people. Jesus said they even tithed mint and dill and cumin. (Matthew 23:23).
The Pharisees were good tithers. Jesus told them they still needed to give to God the things that are God’s. Jesus was not talking about tithing.
You should tithe, but ultimately this passage is not about something as meaningless as money. Coins and taxes are involved in the story, but in the end Jesus is talking about much more than money. If we are to give to God things that are God’s, we would give everything to God. I am not talking about money! I am talking about giving our entire lives to God.
Everybody take a deep breath with me: In… and out. God gave you that breath. Every single breath you take is a gift from God. Every breath we take is due to God. We should use every breath to serve God. We all woke up this morning, right? God gave us this day. If we give to God the things that are God’s, then this day should be devoted to serving God. When you wake up tomorrow, that day will be a gift from God and it should be given to God too.
Jesus says we should give to God the things that are God’s. Everything we do should be done for God. Our entire lives should be offered to God. Every breath and moment should be given to God. This is not about giving a tenth of your income to God. It is giving you entire life!
Stewardship is not about money. It is about giving your life to Christ. How much you pledge to the church next year will not change your standing before God. I don’t care if everybody in the church pledges to tithe or not. It would be nice though. What would really make me happy is if everyone in this church vowed to give to God every day and every breath to serve God. I assume that if we all did give ourselves totally to God, it would have an outcome on many things, including our offerings.
Christian stewardship is about recognizing everything we have is from God. We are called to use everything we have to serve God; our time and talents. Some churches ask congregants to turn in an estimate of the money they will give to the church and church will use those figures to create a budget for next year. That doesn’t matter. That is just a data. It is important how much money you give, but who you serve each day.
Jesus said “give to God the things that are God’s.” We have to give ourselves to God. Have you given your life to Christ? Have you pledged to live your life by Jesus’ example and with God’s help? If you haven’t, then forget about pledging or tithing or any of that stuff. That is not important for you. If you haven’t dedicated your life to following Christ, to living by his example, then do that today! If you have given your life to Christ, then dedicate everything you have to God’s service. Shalom and Amen!