Doug Creamer: Render to Caesar
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 6, 2019
Have you done your taxes yet? Several people have asked me if I do my own taxes or pay to have them done. I have always done my own taxes. I read the instructions and look back at previous years to be sure I am getting it right. I will have to admit that this year was strange. The 1040 form was laid out differently. I still read the instructions and completed my own taxes.
I have dealt with the IRS twice in my life. There was the fun time when the school system accidentally exposed our information. The other time, I received a letter from them and almost fainted. It feels ominous to get a letter from the IRS. By the way, they will never call you. Don’t fall for one of those scams. The letters are for real! I opened the letter to discover that I had made an error which meant that I owed more taxes. But I had also failed to claim a little known deduction that meant I was getting a better tax return.
I couldn’t believe that I made the error. I triple check everything. When I pulled out my copies I discovered my error, a small one, but the IRS doesn’t like any error. The error was so small it only cost me a couple of dollars. The deduction I missed was something offered during the Obama era for small business owners. It was a nice windfall and gave me a bigger return. The deduction disappeared a couple of years later, but I got it each year it was available.
Anyway, I completed my taxes and mailed them off. It is nice to have them done. None of us is happy about paying taxes, but we all enjoy the benefits of living in this great country. Paying taxes has never been popular. Jesus was asked whether we should have to pay taxes. Jesus knew immediately that it was a trick question. No matter what country you live in, you have to pay taxes. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Surprise…Jesus supported paying taxes. Rome was not kind to law breakers. If Jesus had advocated not paying taxes, He might have died a little sooner than He did. Jesus was wise. So, we still have to pay our taxes. It’s the second part of what Jesus said that we really need to focus on. Give to God what is God’s.
Some might argue that Jesus was talking about tithing. I am not convinced that was Jesus’ point. Jesus definitely supported tithing. He asserted that we should follow the Old Testament principles and give to God ten percent of our income. I know many people who have obeyed this principle and have found so much blessing. I, too, have made that discovery over and over again.
I believe that Jesus was talking about something much deeper concerning giving. I believe that Jesus was talking about giving our lives to God. God gave us our lives and the choice of what we will do with it. We can choose to follow our own desires, which will ultimately lead to sin. Or we can choose to give our lives back to God.
When we give our lives to God it does not imply that we must all become pastors. God needs representatives for His kingdom in every occupational area of life. So whatever career field you find yourself in, God needs you to represent Him well there. I assure you that there are people in your field of work who need Jesus.
If we lead surrendered lives, people will begin to notice. You become a light in the darkness. When your colleagues find themselves in a difficult place, they will come to you and then you will have the high honor of pointing them to Jesus. Your life will be a beacon of hope. That’s what I believe Jesus was talking about, giving our lives to God. We are His children and He wants to be in a relationship with each one of us.
Have you opened your life to a relationship with God? I want to encourage you to open your heart to God’s love. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, He wants you. It doesn’t matter how much bad stuff you have done, He can clean you up because He wants you. Nothing else in life matters except having a relationship with your Heavenly Father through Jesus His only son. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. So I encourage you to give to God what is His…your life and your future.
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org