I like to think I’m in good spirits most of the year. But when tax season rolls around, I always have to perform a heart-check.
I fill out those wretched forms and give the government my hard-earned money with two thoughts in mind:
1} Why on earth am I self-employed? 2} Good thing the Bible is clear about taxes, because I really would rather break the law.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Mark 12:17
That familiar, unfriendly passage rambled through my mind several times over the past few weeks as I sorted through the mounds of paperwork.
Then one time, it stopped me.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s . . .
Whether or not I like “Caesar” or agree with him, I’m supposed to pay what is expected of me. I get it. Might need to find a happy heart somewhere, but I get it.
. . . and to God the things that are God’s.
Wait. Where did that come from? And what does that look like?
True, we are instructed to give generously to care for the needs of the saints. But giving to God must not be equated with giving to the church. God owns far more than that.
Then what are “the things that are God’s”?
Not just the church. Not just the stuff we own. Not just our money. Not just our time. Not just our family or friends. Not our thoughts, our plans, or our energies alone.
God owns it all.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 1 Tim 6:7
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Ps 24:1
Render to God the things that are God’s? But that’s everything.
Never mind the “Caesar” part. Take a look at the other side of the coin, and my heart is as black as can be.
I may give to the church, give to others, and give to the government, but I’m miles away from obedience and gratefulness if I think the rest of it is mine.
I may spend myself for the sake of the gospel, work hard, act responsibly, and serve faithfully, but if I calculate what’s left over for my own enjoyment, I’ve missed the point entirely.
I may prioritize the Word, but who am I to think that when the Bible studies are over and the spiritual stuff is done, I can use the remainder of my time and energies for myself?
Where did I get the idea that God gets part of my day? Part of my thoughts? Part of me?
The nerve I have to pretend I own anything at all!
And so on April 15, a withdrawal is made, and by God’s grace, I choose joy.
Meanwhile, in every moment of every day, you’ll find me asking for the strength to surrender everything, every ounce of my life, to God.
Whether I surrender or not, it’s all his.
[image credit: flickr.com]