______________the JOY OF paying taxes_____________ _
There is a story about an Internal Revenue Service agent who made a phone call to the county’s best-known pastor: Mr. Bob Smith, you put down on your tax return that you made a contribution of $3,000.00 the local church last year. Is this true? After a brief pause on the other end of the line, the pastor quietly responded, if I didn’t, I will.
The familial adage goes that the two things one cannot escape are death and taxes. Today, we are going to look at what, to some, is the more frightening of the two—taxes. The fact is, that Jesus said something about taxes—and it's most helpful.
In this text, Jesus is confronted with a question concerning the head tax paid to the Romans. The Pharisees use false flattery in an attempt to disarm Jesus so that they can entrap and humiliate him with a trickery yes or no question.
In Jesus’ day, questioning the tax system was a dangerous business. The establishment of this tax had provoked a revolt of the Jews in Galilee in the year 6 A.D.. The Jews had become enraged concerning the placing of God’s land at the service of the Pagans.
Jesus sets his own trap for the Pharisees by asking the coin used to pay the tax. By doing this, Jesus reminds the Pharisees that they already acknowledge the authority of Caesar by having his money in their possession. They possess a Roman coin, bearing the image of the emperor and conveying Roman ideology.
Jesus simply and profoundly declares that Caesar is owed what bears his image and name—money. Jesus is not drawn into a debate between church and state. He acknowledges that being a servant of God does not exempt you from being a tax-paying servant of the state. Jesus emphasizes however, that the higher duty is to be rendered to God.
I. We Have a Duty to Government.
A. We have this duty even if it is not a government of our own choosing. I don't know how you voted last time and I'm not going to tell you how I voted last time, but in the days of Jesus nobody voted any time.
B. Theirs was a wicked government, yet they had a duty to it. The apostle Paul agreed with this (Romans 13:1 'Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.).
C. What is our duty to government? What should we give to Caesar?
1. It is our duty to pay taxes. We don't have to enjoy paying them but we have to pay them. We have to pay them even if the government is wasting the money. That gives us no right to evade our taxes.
2. It is our duty to obey the law. This is true even if the law seems unjust, unfair or just plain stupid. We are free to work to change laws, but we are not free to disobey laws, unless they conflict with God's law.
3. It is our duty to respect the office of leaders whether or not we happen to respect the person who holds the office at any given time. When the apostle Peter said, "Honor the King" the King was a person not worthy of honor, but the office of King was to honored (1 Peter 2:17 'Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. ).
4. It is our duty to try to make government better.
II. We Have a Duty to God.
A. If we give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's we must also give to God the things that are God's.
What are the things that are God's?
1. Time belongs to God. We ought to spend it wisely and spend some of it in the service of the community and the service of our fellow man.
2. Our abilities belong to God. If you have a talent, use it. Don't waste it. And use it to be a blessing to somebody.
3. Our energies belong to God. We ought not waste our energies on trivial things, but on things that matter.
4. Our hearts belong to God. We must always care.
a. We must care about the less fortunate.
b. We must care about the disadvantaged and the handicapped.
c. We must care about the poor.
d. We must care about the children.
e. We must care about our schools.
f. We must care about our community.
5. There is a lovely estate in Georgia, the beautiful grounds of which were being expertly tended by the caretaker. Every tree was trimmed, the grass was mowed, the stately beds of flowers were in bloom. Yet not one soul was around to observe any of the beauty except for the caretaker himself. A visitor surprised the caretaker after stopping to see the striking site and asked, When was the owner last here? Oh, ten or twelve years ago I guess said the caretaker. Then from whom do you get your instructions? From an agent who lives in Atlanta, the caretaker replied. Does he ever come around to inspect the place? No, can’t say that he does, answered the caretaker. And yet you keep it trim as if he were going to be here tomorrow? And with that the gardener interrupted the curious visitor and said, as if he were going to be here today.
God calls us to be good stewards of all with which we have been entrusted. One day the master will come back to check on things—you can count on it. Will he find you and me ready?
Waiting patiently at the cash register, Uncle Sam stands ready to receive a seemingly ever increasing portion of the money we spend. It is as inevitable as death. The next time you see your tax bill figured or you hear taxes are increasing, remember the words of the penniless itinerant preacher. Render to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is Gods.