Last week we looked at Jesus’ comment “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God was is God’s.”
How many of you gave money unto “Caesar” this week as you filed your taxes? Michelle and I did. It is almost always an agonizing process for me. When I work on taxes, I could definitely use a padded cell like the guy in this picture. What gets me upset is a combination of how complex the forms and instructions can be, as well as saying goodbye to my money.
Our son had opened a bank account in 2015, and the bank ran a promotion where if you deposited money in the count through direct deposit, you would get a $150 bonus. It was great! But guess what came in the mail this year? A form 1099 from the bank calling that $150 bonus as interest income, saying it was reported to the government and was taxable. So he had to pay $4 to the Commonwealth of PA for that. It is easy, from a story like that, to quickly get on to a bunny trail about how the government has its fingers picking our pockets.
But we’re not going to do that! Instead I want to ask about the feelings going on in your heart and mind when you hear a story like that. Maybe anger, maybe frustration. Where do those feelings come from?
Let me suggest that the feelings come from an unhealthy sense of ownership of our money.
In that one line Jesus addresses something that can be very hard for us. Giving. Whether it is giving taxes to the government or giving God an offering, if many of us are honest, we can feel negative about it. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do with our money. And not just government, but also God. Or a preacher. Too many government officials and preachers have abused their position and profited off of people. So we can get really jaded about giving, whether to church or state.
Last week we talked a good bit about how to have a healthy attitude when it comes to paying taxes. This week we’re going to see how some people had a very poor attitude toward giving to God. It was the religious leaders. But why? They had a faulty attitude toward giving, Jesus will tell us, because they had a major error in their theology. Jesus is about to lay a smack down on those high and mighty leaders again, and he’s going to get help from the unlikeliest of places, especially consider that culture. He’s going to get help from a widow.