Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living ©
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
(Mark 12:13-17 (NIV))
Just what do you classify as belonging to God? Just what is it that you use as the basis for deciding what is Caesar’s and what is God’s?
That is a tough question. It was then, and it still is now.
Jesus attempted to answer this in a way that would be understood. If He were walking amongst us today, perhaps the response would be, “Whose fingerprint is on it? Is it part of man’s creation or is it God’s creation?”
Jesus knew full well that everything is God’s, yet He also knew that God’s creation can be used by man for his own desires. In these verses, we are told that money is to be used for man’s purposes.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.”
(Mark 12:41-33 (NIV))
Jesus also tells us that money is to be used for God’s purposes.
This brings us right back to the question about how do you determine what is Caesar’s and what is God’s. Could it be based on individual priorities? Could it be based on the fact that everything is God’s and we are simply stewards?
God gives us all that we need. Perhaps Jesus was simply telling those who asked this question that it is up to them how they respond. It could be that He was trying to remind them that God does provide all that we need and these types of questions simply show a lack of faith. These type of questions imply that we do not have enough faith to believe that God will provide all that we need even if we have to give to Caesar. Some people use this type of an argument to reason that they do not have enough to give to God.
We are told that the people were amazed with His answer. We do not know how they gave to Caesar and how they gave to God from that point forward, but I would venture to say that they never looked upon either one the same ever again.
Giving is a personal decision.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
(2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (NIV))
Whatever you give to God, do it with joy in your heart. Do not give reluctantly, for a gift given in reluctance is not a true gift. It is actually more like a tax from Caesar. Who do you know that is joyful over paying taxes? Who do you know that is joyful over giving to God?
Do you have joy when you give?