What else should we “render” to God?

Most of us are probably feeling a bit poorer this week. When Jesus taught us to “render unto Caesar” (Matthew 22:21) what we owe, our annual taxes became both a financial and spiritual responsibility. Rendering seems to get more complicated and costly every year. It is a good feeling to put a stamp on those envelopes and just mail them off!

According to Strong’s dictionary, the biblical definition for the word render is “to give away, give up, or give back.” I couldn’t help but think how much easier it is to give back than to give up. It was difficult for the Jewish people to give up their earnings to Rome because they didn’t agree with the way Rome used their money. It’s easier to give to those things we believe in and trust.

That’s why Jesus’ words were so powerfully important to the early church and remain equally important today. Our taxes are owed, whether we like what the money is used for or not. We have to give up some money that doesn’t feel like gratefully “giving back” for something we owe.

Why did Jesus tell Christians to “render to Caesar?”

Caesar Augustus was the Roman ruler at the time of Jesus’ birth, but he wasn’t the Caesar during his earthly ministry. Roman history regards Caesar Augustus as the most important and successful ruler, even though he worshiped multiple gods and allowed himself to be honored as a god. 

The Caesar who Jesus told his followers to pay taxes to was Tiberius, the stepson of Caesar Augustus. Tiberius was a reluctant leader and while successful, he never achieved the acceptance and acclaim of his stepfather. 

The Roman leaders crucified people for crimes, worshiped their gods in vile and detestable ways, and randomly enslaved and taxed people as they willed. There was good reason for the Jewish nation to be angry and distressed about financially supporting ungodly people and their policies. Yet, Jesus clarified their emotions with his truth.

Jesus didn’t ask people to give to Caesar what he deserved; he asked the people to give what they owed because doing so would be their best service to God. That statement may be of great help to Christians in our American culture going forward.

What else should we render to God?

My husband and I were talking about the coming months, especially with the social and political divisions in today’s culture. We talked about something we need to remember personally, and wish we could stress to God’s people today.

As Christians, we will need to be careful that politics don’t become our “religion” this year. There are Christians on both sides and equal opportunity to sin on whatever side we choose. So much of the political rhetoric these days is caustic, slanderous, one-sided, and sometimes just downright untrue. It’s so important we do our best to make our faith a higher priority than our political positions. 

Jesus would teach us to carefully “render unto Caesar” our vote for the people and policies our faith should support. At the same time, Jesus would teach us to render our words, our attitudes, and our witness to honor God. We are called to serve his kingdom purpose through the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit.

And I admit this is a tough thing to do! People who know me know I have definite opinions, and I’m not afraid to offer those opinions to others. I’ve often said the same mouth that teaches Bible is the same mouth that speaks sinful things too. It’s always been a problem for God’s children. James told the first-century Christians, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:26–27).

As I typed those verses from James, I thought, “Is there anyone whose politics are unstained from the world”? I can’t think of one, can you?

We can’t allow our politics to become a religion. We owe it to our country to “render unto Caesar,” but we owe God everything.

Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe.

I believe and can sing (off-key) every word to the hymn, Jesus Paid it All. I wish I lived more often like I believe those words I sing. Sometimes this world makes it difficult to “walk the talk.” I expect that this year will be one of the most difficult to navigate. 

We owe our vote to the country but we owe everything to God. If we will remember what Jesus paid for our sins, we will be less likely to commit them. That’s especially important for those of us who do a lot of “walking and talking” for the Lord. 

Again, our politics cannot become a religion, especially this year. God’s children serve a higher purpose, with a higher calling. I wonder how Washington D.C. would change if God’s elected children put their faith ahead of their candidacy.

What else do you need to render to God?

We have “rendered” our taxes and now, on to the higher priorities of God! We have a kingdom purpose this year as the subject of politics heats up. What do you need to render to God so that you can walk away after all those conversations knowing you honored and served your Lord?

Thankfully, all of us have his grace for our imperfections. This is going to be a messy year, and we might as well accept that reality. I just wanted to write a blog post that planted a few seeds ahead of time. What if we all worked on a commitment to God for this upcoming political season? Our words can speak to our shared faith more than they speak to our differing opinions.

I know I’ve got some more “rendering” to do. I just thought the taxes were tough this year! I needed to write this blog post to myself before I could give it to all of you. I’m praying that all of us will take our souls to God and walk away from his throne having left several of our opinions, attitudes, and unspoken words at his feet! 

Let’s keep ourselves “unstained by the world,” and we will be kept securely blessed by things eternal.