Published April 13, 2010

Paul's Epistle...

April 15th is just two days away. Have you taken care of that "rendering unto Caesar" stuff yet? According to the Tax Foundation, virtually everything Americans have earned so far this year – that's you, that's me – will go to paying taxes. Everything! So, congratulations – you may soon start working for your own family. What a relief. (Just ignore the mega-billions in Federal debt that's piling up with no workable plan to repay. Washington is.)

There's no question that Christians are to pay taxes. It's a direct teaching of Scripture. When Jesus was asked, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" He simply asked whose image and inscription were stamped on the coinage. "Caesar's!" Jesus replied simply, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's..." (Mark 12:17). So who's on our hard-earned coins? A lot of dead presidents. So there they go, marching back to Washington. Bye.

But wait a minute. There's more to that "rendering" verse. The second half seems to be often overlooked. After talking about rendering "to Caesar the things that are Caesar's," Jesus added, "and to God the things that are God's."

We're pretty good about the "rendering to Caesar" thing, because, well, it's forced upon us, and there are significant penalties for failure to comply.

But what about rendering "to God the things that are God's?" What's that all about? Doesn't He already own everything? Based on Psalm 50:10, John W. Peterson (in 1948) wrote,

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
The wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell ...
I know that He will care for me.

So what can we give to God that He doesn't already have?

Ourselves. Totally and completely.

When you became a Christian, you probably heard someone say that you "gave your life to Christ." That's more than just an expression. That's what we are to do – give ourselves totally to the Lord. And that includes giving back to Him from what He graciously provides to us – our time, our talents, our resources, our energies, our relationships, our prayer time, our family and everything else we normally consider "ours." 1 Chronicles 29:14 says, "For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You."

I grew up in a church that said that in song every offering-time:

We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate'er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.**

All that we have is, indeed, a trust from the Lord. How will we use it?

When people looked at that Roman coin, they saw Caesar's image. But when people look at you, whose image do they see? Do they see Christ in you?

Shouldn't you be making a renewed effort to "render" yourself to God? After all, as Paul says, "You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor 6:20).

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.*

- Paul

*Refrain from "Living For Jesus," Thomas Chisholm, 1917.
**1st verse from "We Give Thee But Thine Own," William How, 1864.

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