What to Give to Caesar, what to Give to God?

What to Give to Caesar, what to Give to God?Recently I completed one of “favorite” tasks of any year: filing my annual tax return. I was prepared with all of my documents and I took care of it, even though I never, never enjoy the process.

An in spite of my problems with the U.S. Tax System, I know is a responsibility I could not avoid. Remember this passage in Matthew:

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.
16 And they *sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.
17 Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.
20 And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”
22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.
Matthew 22:15-22

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In His answer to the Pharisees, Jesus makes it very clear to us that paying taxes to the government (represented by Caesar in this case) is something we should do. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us the same thing:

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Romans 13:6-7

However, I believe the issue goes deeper than a simple manner of a money exchange. Aside from paying taxes, what do owe the government? And what do we owe God?

As Christians, I think what we owe the government is very clear:

  • Obeying the law.
  • Respect to authority (Judges, police, government officials).
  • Participation in the democratic process via the vote (where available).
  • Seek out the wellbeing of the city in which we live.

The apostle Peter summarizes these points very well:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
I Peter 2:13-17

Of course as Christians, our obedience to those laws should be limited to those laws that do not contradict God’s express will and His commandments.

Like the Apostles in the book of Acts (Acts 5:24-29) in the moment of persecution and oppression, we should be willing to obey God rather than men and we should already be willing to suffer the consequences.

So, what should we give God then? This is of course the most fundamental question and goes way beyond an issue of money.

As Christians, I believe we owe God:

  • All honor and glory. Total worship. He is the only one worth of all our praise.
  • Obeying His commandments.
  • Service motivated by heart full of gratitude for His many blessings.

So yes. Year after year, I will pay my taxes. I will give Caesar what is owed to Caesar.

However, for me the most important thing is to give God all that I owe to Him. He paid a debt that I could not ever pay by myself.

So the only thing left for me to do is to live every day doing what I can to advance His Kingdom. And to bring Him glory.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

The Purpose of Wealth

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
18 
Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.
19 
By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

I Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)

The purpose of getting your finances in order and building wealth is so that you can be a blessing to God and others.

You see, it’s not just about you and me.

So using the passage quoted above, here is how I summarize the purpose of wealth:

The Purpose of Wealth

Preparing For The Holidays

Preparing for the HolidaysDo you realize that Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away?

It seems to me that the holidays are getting here really early this year.

Of course I have already seen a couple of houses in our neighborhood with Christmas decorations, so Christmas seems to be in a hurry to get here early as well.

This is supposed to be a great time of the year but it can also be a time filled with lots of activity and stress.

With so many things to do and so many places to be, your emotions will be running high. It is at times like this where you can can easily get derailed from your financial plan.

How do we stay grounded and focused? How do we really get to enjoy the holidays without breaking our budget?

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I think the answer is in having the right attitude in our hearts.

With that in mind, let’s prepare for the holidays by focusing on these attitudes over the next few weeks: gratitude, contentment, and generosity.

Gratitude

Think about what and who we have in our lives. Our very next breath is not guaranteed, so every new day is an opportunity to be thankful.

Do we have health and the ability to work? Let’s be thankful. Do we have jobs? Let’s be thankful.

Do we have friends and family who love us? Let’s be thankful. Do we have a roof over our head and food to eat every day? Let’s be thankful.

If gratitude fills your heart, it will be harder for it to be filled with grumbling and bitterness.

in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:18

Contentment

This is the attitude that says “we have enough“. We are satisfied regardless of our current state of affairs.

This is a great antidote against greed and against thinking that one more present will be just what we need.

We don’t need to overdo it whether it is in celebration or in gifts. If we are honest with ourselves, we already have enough.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
I Timothy 6:6-7

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Generosity

When we have gratitude and contentment, we can turn our attention from ourselves and focus on others. We can always show generosity.

Now, you may not be in a position to give everyone a nice present.

However, you are always in a position to give the people in your life the gift of your presence and the gift of your service. Make that phone call. Send that Christmas card.

Spend time with that friend or family member you have not seen in a while. Volunteer at church to reach those in need during the holidays.

Generosity does not have to be limited by the balance in our bank account.

“The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 11:25

New e-book: “What Do You Mean is Not My Money?”

“What Do You Mean is Not My Money?I am very happy announce that I have just my published my new e-book for the Kindle! The title of the book is “What Do You Mean is Not My Money?”.

In this book I give you my point of view on the essence of biblical stewardship and the blessings we receive when we are rich towards God and others.

I think it is important for Christians to have a clear perspective on stewardship so it can become a joyous adventure and not a dreadful duty.

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In the book, I go straight to God’s Word to understand our roles as stewards and God’s role as owner.

I also cover some of the most common questions on this grace of stewardship, share with you the secret of contentment, and talk about how we can have generosity as a lifestyle.

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I wrote this book because having the proper view of biblical stewardship is fundamental for God’s people.

We need to have the proper view of stewardship so we can glorify Him with our finances.

Are you ready to be rich towards God and others? Get the book today!

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)

The Motivation for Giving

The Motivation for GivingHave you ever seen my budget template? If you take a quick look, you will see that the first line item is the category of “Giving”.

As I have written many, many times before, I believe the key to gaining control over your money is learning to live on a monthly budget.

But I also believe that the cornerstone of your budget is having a generous heart.

So I would like to give you my motivation for giving. These come from my Christian worldview and from my personal experience.

However, regardless of your faith and even if you are not a person of faith the principle still applies.

Generosity is a distinguishing mark of people who win with money.

I believe that we should give because God is the owner, provider, and the example.

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God is the Owner

I understand that I am a steward, an asset manager for God and that He owns it all (Psalm 24:1). He does not “need” my money. And by the way, it is not my money anyway.

But it is fundamental that I understand God’s ownership of all things:

‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts.
Haggai 2:8

“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.”
I Chronicles 29:14

Finally, as a steward, I also understand will give an account to Him as the owner.

I will have to answer for the sum of my life and finances are just a part of that account (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

Giving is really a matter of obedience.

God is the Provider

Everything comes from God. He is the ultimate and perfect provider:

“But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth,”
Deuteronomy 8:18a

24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
Acts 17:24-25

One of the great preachers and Bible teachers of our generation, Dr. David Jeremiah has put it best: “God is a God of grace. His grace provides strength to earn, generosity to give, and humility to receive.”

 Giving is really a matter of thanksgiving.

God is the Example

He gave the ultimate gift by giving His Son as the Savior of the whole world (I John 4:9-10).

And as we excel in the grace of giving, it makes us more like God and Christ. They are givers.

As we grow into the likeness of Christ, we should grow in the aspect of giving as we seek to be like Him (Romans 8:29).

What better motivation for giving could you have?

Giving is really a matter of spiritual maturity.

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“God is the great giver. The great provider. The fount of every blessing. Absolutely generous and utterly dependable. The resounding and recurring message of Scripture is clear: God owns it all. God shares it all. Trust him, not stuff!”
Max Lucado (Fearless)