Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Render Unto God

Although many people probably attribute it to Shakespeare, or Socrates, or some other great ‘philosopher,’ one of the most famous quotes of all time is: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” And it was indeed spoken by the greatest philosopher of all time – Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:21).
As we know, the context of the quote involved the ‘religious elite’ who were also very entwined with the culture of their day. They weren’t trying to get Jesus to give them some revolutionist justification for not paying taxes to Rome. Instead, they were trying to trip Jesus up and force Him to admit that His brand of ‘faith’ isn’t really practical. They wanted to make Him admit that, “Sure, you can be ‘religious,’ but in this world, you have go along to get along.”
But Jesus isn’t the one that got tripped up.
Jesus made clear to those questioning Him about paying taxes that if something belongs to Caesar, they were to give it to him. But He also told them to give to God what belongs to Him. (We don’t seem to pay as much attention to that part of the quote.)
Jesus also set forth a pretty easy test to determine to whom something belongs (Matthew 22:20):
1. Whose portrait is on it?
2. Whose inscription is on it?
With regard to the ‘paying taxes’ question, it was clear that Caesar’s likeness was on the coin used for paying them. Also, Caesar’s name was on the coin. So – since it apparently belonged to Caesar, give it to Caesar.
But is it so easy to determine what belongs to God? How are we supposed to know what belongs to God to appropriately give to Him what is due Him?
Sure, I can give Him about an hour and a half on Sunday morning (as long as the preacher doesn’t go on and on). I give Him few minutes before going to sleep each night to say my, “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .” I supposed I could probably tithe. I’ll try to knock out a chapter in the Bible over a cup of coffee each morning.
Isn’t that enough? Well - isn’t it?
Let’s apply the Matthew 22:20 test to see what exactly belongs to God so we’ll know what to give to Him:
1. Whose portrait is on it? Hmmm – Genesis 1:27 says: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.” That would seem to indicate that His image- His likeness - His ‘portrait’ is on me of all things!
2. Whose inscription is on it? Well, 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 both tell me that I was bought at a very high price – Jesus’ blood. So, His inscription is on me.
I think that means I’m supposed to give ‘me’ to God. All of me.
I’m not supposed to give God just a part of me; there’s no compartmentalization because His image and His name aren’t on just certain parts of my life.
And I’m not supposed to give God just what is ‘left over’ after giving my best to the world. You know, ‘Firstfruits,’ ‘Seek Him first,’ . . .

[G]ive to Caesar what belongs to him.
But everything that belongs to God must be given to God.

(Matthew 22:21, NLT)

So – what are we to do with that today?
Let the world have what is ‘of the world’ – don’t try to hold on to any of it.
But with regard to this ‘new life’ that God has given us, let Him have all of it – don’t try to hold on to any of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment