(disclaimer: I know it’s been far too long since I posted on here and for those who were following this blog, my sincerest apologies. My work life has been nearly all-consuming since late 2012, so what little free time I have had has been given to my family. Thanks for understanding.)
“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” – Matthew 22:15- 21
This morning I found myself with some free time and no family around, so I started watching a video from Palm Valley, our old church in Phoenix. It was a message Angie and I had watched live when it was recorded, but one that was very relevant to where our current church, Northpoint, is right now: entering a building campaign.
For a little more background info on this post, the topic of tithing and how many who call themselves Christ Followers actually tithe faithfully came up in our small group last week, and for those who know Angie and I, this is a hot button issue for us. Mainly, because it makes us so sad that so many friends, family and members of every church we’ve attended fail to get how important this really is.
While watching this message from Palm Valley, Pastor Greg said something that made two points in my mind click, and converge on the scripture at the beginning of this post.
Everyone pays taxes if they live in this country, even if it’s just sales tax. The money we use in our day to day lives is the property of the US Government, earned by us and spent by us, with various portions of it going back to the local and federal government. While I don’t think many enjoy it, it’s what’s required of US citizens.
“…give back to Caesar…”
Now, God gives us EVERYTHING we have, and commands us to give the first ten percent back. He doesn’t threaten to garnish our wages, or confiscate our property if we fail to comply, like the IRS does. No, he puts us on an honor system of sorts. He challenges us to test him on this, in Malachai 3:10, promising to meet our needs if we are obedient. But, like taxes, it is what’s required of us that follow Christ.
So, the US Government threatens to take what we have for not bringing money back to them, and we comply.
God, challenges us to test him by bringing it back to Him so he can pour out the blessings of heaven on us.
And, we ignore Him.
Anyone see what’s wrong with this picture?
Jesus commands us to give to the Government, what is the Government’s, and give to God what is God.
We do the first every day.
We ignore the second. Every day.
And, we all wonder why our communities, our states, our nation and our world is crumbling into depravity all around us.
We wonder why non-Christ followers think we’re all hypocrites.
Would you believe someone who raved about the company they worked for while they stole from it? Would you respect a man or woman who told you to be faithful to your spouse while they cheated on theirs? Would you take financial advice from someone who was convicted of embezzling?
Following Christ is all about life change, not before you come to Him, but after. A life without Him is scary, which is why I believe so many cling to their wallet for security. But, once you’ve given your life back to the One who gave it to you, He holds you in His hand. He takes care of you and meets your needs.
For those who have children, think of how you meet their needs. Their piggy bank doesn’t. The gift card they got for Christmas doesn’t. You do. And you do it far more, and with far greater reward to your children than their meager piggy bank ever could. You don’t just buy them things, you love them, you comfort them, you heal their pains, you comfort their fears, you shelter their physical bodies, their minds and their souls.
The same is true of our Heavenly Father. He meets our needs; and does so in a way far greater than our bank accounts, investments, salaries or lines of credit ever could.
Please don’t let your closed wallet prevent your heart from opening to the blessing our Father has for you.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (the local church), that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachai 3:10