Our yearly sweat boiled down into one document submitted to our government, sometimes with tears.
And most of us moan, groan and complain about it.
Yet Jesus took a different tactic:
They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.
“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
“Caesar,” they said.
Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
Their mouths hung open, speechless.
Mark 12:13-17 (MSG)
Much as we grumble and don’t like, most of us, having to pay taxes, the government system was the one we chose. We asked God for kings, and the result is we got what we asked for. People are imperfect, and full of bureaucracy.
But God placed our government, the men and women serving their communities & country. God gave us jobs to help provide for us.
The result? We owe it all to God, the giver of all good things.
And before you wonder, having work is a good thing…just ask someone having a hard time finding a job and making ends meet.
Yet God, through these verses showing us a snippet in the life of Jesus, tells us to pay the government what it is due. And that means taxes: property, municipal and federal.
It also means we need to get it done.
Don’t put it off because you don’t want to put in the work needed, or because you owe money. File on time, figure out how to best pay what you owe if you owe, and plan ahead so you are ready for next year.
If you are fortunate, you get a refund.
Another way God can sometimes surprisingly provide for us.
I have two part time jobs, and recently started doing some freelance from home. I pay tax every pay cheque all year round to the part time jobs, which helps to cover what I might owe for the freelance work. An accountant made that suggestion, which means I would hopefully owe less at income tax time.
There was another time when Jesus made a public point with Peter to pay His taxes:
When they arrived at Capernaum, the tax men came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay taxes?”
Peter said, “Of course.”
But as soon as they were in the house, Jesus confronted him. “Simon, what do you think? When a king levies taxes, who pays—his children or his subjects?”
He answered, “His subjects.”
Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”
Matthew 17:24-27 (MSG)
Jesus made a point, even though He was God’s son, and owns everything, to pay the taxes He owed while He was here on earth. He clearly demonstrated that we are to give those in authority over us what they are due, our taxes.
Whether we like their behavior or not.
Jesus clearly had issues with the religious and political leaders in His day. However, He gave his taxes to both support the temple He went to and the community/country He lived in.
The heart of the matter? Give out of obedience and thankfulness to God, the giver of all we have and are.
Give unto Caesar what is his (our taxes) and give unto God what is His (everything, but especially our praise, worship and gratitude).
Ask Jesus to help us with our finances and spend them as He leads helps us give our money where He has intends for it to go.
May our attitude be like His.
Without complaint, He gave when He was asked to.
The ultimate sacrifice for us all.
If sin was a tax, it took its toll in full out on Jesus. For me, for you.
And He never complained.
He did it out of love for us.
Now, you may not love your government or paying taxes, but if you love God, we need to leave our complaints aside and pay our taxes out of the great love we have for Him.
For He gave it all.
And He paid for everyone, even the tax collectors or the local politician whom we find embarrassing.
Give to the government what it is due, and give to God all He is due.
Words to remember as our deadline for getting our taxes done draws closer.