Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whose Coin Is It Anyway? (Tax Day Edition) - Lenten Journey Day 36 Devotional - April 15, 2014

"Well, then,’ Jesus said, ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God." His reply completely amazed them.” – Mark 12:17

Just last week I had the opportunity to help at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program at Coastline Community College.  The turnout was impressive! Before we opened the doors, individuals and families were lined up waiting for help with filing their tax returns. 

TAX DAY was looming (dun.dun.dun).  And if there was a clear sentiment among everyone it was, “you don’t mess with the IRS”.  Taxes have been put up there with death as one of the only certain things in life, and for good reason.  I think the IRS and mafia attend the same training school (j/k).

But now that we have this whole nasty day behind us, I found it interesting how universally understood the proverbial Tax Man’s role is in our lives.  We work.  We pay taxes. Period.  Some may complain about how much, nonetheless, it is understood that your citizenship in this country comes with a certain amount of tax liability.  This has always been a point of discussion, even during Jesus’ time.  When the Pharisees asked Jesus about paying taxes to the Romans, his response was simple, ““give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” (Matthew 22:21).  By that he meant, since the coins belonged to Cesar in the first place, they were doing nothing more than giving back what already belonged to him.   But Jesus didn’t stop there, he went on to add, “and give to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:21). 

Now, what belongs to God?

For a follower of Christ? A citizenship of the Kingdom of God?  Welleverything.  It all belong to God; even our finances.  Every dime. 

So, while the Tax Man may take your money, God gives you the resources you need, steps back, and asks you to be a good steward.  Why? Because stewardship reveals the condition of our heart. 

 “Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” – Proverbs 23:4

When we say we serve God and yet we let fear of lack drive us to sacrifice the wrong things, make the wrong decisions, compromise in the wrong areas, we align our heart with the wrong god.  When our sense of self-worth is calculated based on material things, we diminish our own value.

Do you see your finances as resources entrusted to you by God?

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – Matthew 6:24

It’s all God’s.  He gave it to you for a purpose.  His purpose, not your own.  So when it comes to giving and generosity, we can give with gratitude, knowing that we are only returning to God what is His in the first place.  When we don’t have the right heart condition, we settle for “tipping God”.  We throw a few dollars in the offering or meticulously calculate our 10% tithe, and spend the rest without consulting Him.  You know who we do that to? A waiter.

God is not a waiter.  He is our Jehovah Jireh (the God of Provision).  He is the only source of security.  He is eternally faithful and recession-proof.  So, investing in His Kingdom purpose pays more dividends than we could ever imagine!

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5

Now, God is never going to stand over your shoulder and make you do anything.  That’s the beauty of surrender.  That is the freedom that is found in the Kingdom.  We give because we can. 

We give because He first gave to us.

As a citizen of God’s Kingdom, are you ready to give it all back to Him?

Let’s pray:  Father God, we know that all we have comes from You.  Thank you for all that You have given us through Your provision.  Help us to trust You as our best financial advisor.  Let us become better stewards of the resources You have given to us, so that even the management of our finances brings glory to Your name.  Amen.

Now listening to: He Wants It All, Forever Jones

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