I am confident that if you have not already rendered to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, you are surely in the process right now of getting that done. What am I talking about?
Taxes are almost due. The date this year is April 17. Your Federal Income Tax Return and State Return will need to be postmarked by midnight on April 17 to avoid penalty, unless you have filed for an extension. If you are rightly conscientious about your finances, you plan all year for “Tax Day.” You keep accurate records on file, maintaining good records on housing expenses, interest on loans, and dividend and interest income, to name a few. Nobody wants to be audited, but if you are selected for an audit, you want assurance that your taxes are accurately calculated and filed. We take great care to make sure we pay what we are supposed to pay to Caesar.
In Matthew 22:15-21 we read, Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute (taxes) unto Caesar, or not?”
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute (tax) money.” And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?”
They say unto him, “Caesar’s.” Then saith he unto them, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Did you catch the entirety of that last sentence? “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Most of us do an excellent job of rendering to Caesar, the government, what is the government’s. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that we are not as conscientious about rendering to God the things that are God’s.
We are not bound by law to give a certain amount to God through His church, but the Bible is very straightforward about the matter. In Malachi, chapter three, the prophet makes it clear that we are robbing God when we fail to render our tithes and offerings to God (Malachi 3: 8-10).
When you go week in and week out failing to give the tithe through your church, you are robbing God of what is rightfully His. Yes, it is in the New Testament, too. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus charged the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites because they were meticulous in the giving of tithes, but failed because they omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. Then Jesus said that they ought to have given their tithes, but not left the other things undone.
Some have argued that the tithe is no longer relevant, that it is Old Testament law and we are now living not under the law, but under grace. Let me ask you, then: Do you think we should give less to God under grace than was required under the law?
I think not.
Meeting the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service is something we do without fail. Doesn’t God deserve at least the same level of commitment?