In the first two parts of this miniseries on how to practically apply Biblical wisdom to our lives, we looked at the two Great Commandments:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
Today, let’s look at Mark 12:13-17, in which the Jewish religious leaders sought to trap Jesus by the question of taxes, something that was as pleasant to their society as it is to ours:
“Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
Jesus answered, “‘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.'”
Without getting into whether death or taxes is preferable, let’s look at some ways to practically apply this teaching of Jesus:
1) Recognize that God’s standards and man’s are different. Money is very important to many people, so important to some that they start wars and foment dissent so that they can make more of it. While money is necessary to all so that we can eat, clothe ourselves, and live in a decent shelter, don’t make it the focal point of your life. Recognize that your value to God has nothing to do with the amount of material matter you do, or don’t possess.
2) You don’t have to be rich to give back to God. God knows how much is in our bank account. There are plenty of millionaires and billionaires who fund “philanthropic” projects that do little more than glorify their name, and if “all” you can do is buy a package of socks for your neighbor’s little girl who gets made fun of because hers have holes in them, you’ve done much, much more than many who preen at their own generosity.
3) Money isn’t everything. God’s gifts to people include far more than material wealth: intelligence, creativity, a spirit of kindness, the ability to lift 50-pound sacks of dog food into another person’s car, the willingness to listen and not pass judgment: these are all gifts that we can give back to God. Caesar doesn’t want them, nor would he know how to use them.
4) Give where you want. In these days of corporate multi-national globalized everything, charities are bigger and better than ever as well. Feel free to say no to sales pressure, and be alert to needs that God shows you, specifically: it could be a very small organization of one or two people trying to make a difference; it could be that neighbor and her child needing socks; it could be a tank of gas for your neighbor’s best friend’s sister who needs it to drive to a distant job interview. (Do you see how frequently our neighbor comes into this?)
5) What does God want? Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” This isn’t something we actively pray for, and indeed, it’s actually easier to write a check — no matter how little is in our account — but if you are going through rough circumstances and you approach God with humility and a willingness to admit your weakness, you’re rendering unto God what is God’s.
Living as a Christian doesn’t so much involve thinking outside the box as it does giving the box to God, and letting Him throw it as far as east is to west.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I am constantly amazed at the gifts God gives us. They never look like man’s treasures.
Posts similar to this one are