Are you frustrated with all the demands made on your finances? Do you wonder why so much of your paycheck disappears so quickly? Do you make every attempt possible to keep as much of it as you can?
We all have several different deductions coming out of our paychecks. There are federal taxes, state taxes, insurance, and social security taxes at a minimum. We may have other deductions such as investments or stock purchases. We sometimes wonder why we work at all.
We often complain about having to pay taxes. Most of us have probably heard the statement that we work for the first four months or so of the year for free and the rest of the year for ourselves. Obviously, we don’t work for free. But it is a way to quantify the amount of taxes we pay from each paycheck. We hear of tax cuts, and we don’t see a quantifiable difference. We still pay out roughly thirty-three percent of our earnings to taxes.
What does God say about paying taxes? We see in today’s passage that Jesus very clearly says to pay them. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, to get Him to say something against the Roman government so they could have Him arrested. He doesn’t fall into their trap.
Many who read this passage may admit they should pay taxes, but they will question what is God’s. It is simple and yet not so simple. It is certainly a question most of us don’t really want to know the answer deep down in our heart. In fact, I would suggest many of us prefer to be ignorant of or are afraid of the answer. God wants all of us and all that we have. At the same time, He provides us with all we need. One way in which He provides is through our salaries.
Our next question is, “How much of my salary does God want back?” The first thing many will point to is that Jesus didn’t set a specific amount or percentage. However, the Jews were told to give back in various Scriptures the firstfruits, the first born of all their animals, and one-tenth of all they had. The next argument is that those commands are in the Old Testament. Yet, Jesus did not abolish the Old Testament, but fulfilled it.
Here is the hard question for us to wrestle with, if we are paying thirty-three percent of our income to taxes, why are we not giving God the ten percent He desires? I know the answer most will reply with, “I have to pay my bills and feed my family.” Folks let’s call a spade a spade. That is a lack of trust that God will provide.
I pray we all determine to give God what is God’s. I pray we decide to contribute to the building of His kingdom. I pray each one of us will commit to reworking our budgets to contribute to our local churches. Give to God. Trust God to provide. Put God first. You cannot out give God.
Mark 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.