OK, if Paul hadn’t already hit close enough to home in pulling out this example of serving authorities and an exercise in how to apply the teachings of Romans 12, he closes the discussion with not only hitting the heart, but also the pocketbook. Taxes!
The great economist, John Maynard Keynes, quipped, “The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.” But Jesus says, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
This hits us at every level. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus tells us that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” He says this in conclusion to imploring His followers to store treasures in heaven rather than on earth. But money is one of the items that we struggle to not label as “mine.” I work hard for it. It is paid to me. It is mine. Right? But Jesus warns against this. If we take this as our treasure, then not only do we miss out on heavenly treasures instead, but we dishonor God.
We dishonor God because we convey the belief through our actions that God is a God of scarcity. If we need to cling to money and horde and protect it and keep it from the evil tax collectors who are going to misspend it anyway, then, we convey the belief that there is a limited amount of wealth that God can and does provide.
Does that fit with anything else you know about God? Is He a God of scarcity, where we need to get our slice of the pie? That is not what I know about God, the creator of Heaven and Earth. God is a God of abundance. All of it belongs to Him anyway. Paul’s first letter to Timothy warns us that “The love of money is a root of all evil.” We cannot serve two masters and we cannot love money and love with the love of God.
I am clearly not one who enjoys writing the check for taxes. But in recent years, as my faith has matured, I see it for what it is, a way that God challenges me to see things for what they are and rejoice that I am confident in trusting fully in Him. There is nothing I have missed out on by paying taxes. There is a lot I miss out on if I put money before God.
I love how Paul concludes this section. Give to everyone what you owe them: taxes, revenue, respect, honor. Don’t be confused, this is not about money. It isn’t even about authority. It is about giving like God gives. It is about loving like God loves. It is about overcoming evil not in the way man would do, of fighting evil with evil a quid pro quo, hand for a hand. Our God is a God of abundance. Out give the enemies. Out love the oppressors. Out honor those who are not acting honorably. Out respect those who act disrespectfully. Do the same for those who love and give and honor and respect as well. Because, here is what we know to be fact: We cannot out love or out give or out honor or out respect our God. Everything we have, everything we are and everything we desire to be is from Him and of Him.
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. Money is stuff, there is no shortage of it in the world and God controls the allocation of it in the same way that He controls everything else. Do not operate from scarcity, but from God’s abundance
Establish justice (pay for the operation of police, courts and lawmakers)
insure domestic tranquility (homeland security
Provide for the common defense Redistribution of wealth
Promote the general welfare Establish and develop foreign trade and markets
Secure the blessings of liberty Pay what is rightfully and fully due
EX: Honor father and mother
LV: stand up in presence of aged, show respect to elderly
1T5: Double honor to the elders who direct the affairs of the church, especially preachers and teachers
1T6:God, the blessed and only ruler
1P2: Show proper respect to everyone as submitting to God’s authority
By loving them with God’s love. For seeing them as God sees them. Not by lying or by being pacifistic, but by overcoming them with the Love of God and His truth.