Jesus’ profound thoughts on taxes
Please excuse my lack of blog posts in the last week or so. I got a whole week ahead before my vacation so that I wouldn’t have to spend the whole thing writing, and then the week off from writing got me out of the habit.
Also, for the above reason, please excuse how late this post is. Nevertheless…
April 15th is Tax Day in the U.S. I have frequently heard it said that it should be a Federal holiday so that people can stay home from work and finish their forms in time to be in line at the Post Office by midnight. Another old aphorism says that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. It seems like money and taxes are on our minds as much as, or even more than, anything else.
It surprises some people who are unfamiliar with Jesus’ teachings (and doesn’t surprise those whose only exposure to Christianity has been through televangelists) that Jesus taught about money quite a bit. In fact, money was one of Jesus’ top three topics to teach about, along with love and repentance.
So with all the stress surrounding Tax Day and how hard it hits people’s wallets, I wanted to share the most profound thing I have ever learned concerning money and taxes. The story comes from Mark 12:13-17. Basically, some of the religious leaders who didn’t like Jesus and wanted him dead tried to trick him into saying something that could get him arrested. After flattering Jesus, they asked him if, as a Jewish man, it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ response is amazing (it even says in verse 17 that they were amazed at his answer). He asks to see a Roman coin. Then he asks the religious leaders, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” They reply, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus simply says, “Well, then, give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss the profound nature of this statement. Roman coins belonged to Caesar because they were stamped with his image and title. So that explains the “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” part. But what are we supposed to give to God that belongs to Him?
Let me ask you another question – Whose image do we bear?
Jesus talked about money a lot, and the message was always the same – You can’t serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24), and you should choose to serve God, even if it means forsaking money, because you are created in his image.
So, the whole point of this is that you shouldn’t stress out about taxes every year. I know it’s a hassle. I have to pay taxes, too. But ultimately taxes are meaningless in light of God’s kingdom. So is great earthly wealth. Jesus also said that none of us can add a single hour to the length of our lives by worrying (Matt. 6:27). So let’s trust God to provide for our needs. He is bigger than a recession, bigger than the U.S. government, and bigger than our need for a fat bank account.