My first job was at Taco Bell where my starting wage was $1.70 an hour. I filed my 1040A and got a check for over $100 back from the government and thought I was rich. This year I paid my taxes and remembered, with great longing, the days I actually got something back from the government. I memorized Matthew 22:21 in the King James Version. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus when they asked him if they should be paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus asked them for a coin, told them to look at it and describe whose picture they saw. Unfortunately, they saw Caesar’s image. After admitting that to Jesus he told them to, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Christians have been “rendering” ever since. If Jesus had said, “no, Christians shouldn’t pay taxes” – we would have a lot more Christians! (OK…I know…but it has been that kind of week!) I’m writing this essay on Sunday evening so that it will be ready for Tuesday. I would normally write it on Monday – but I have jury duty. I’m still not done rendering for the week! I was a stand-by, but they called me in anyway. I have a full week of work to get done, I had a Bible study to teach…and I’m just not in the mood for any more rendering! Why don’t people just behave and get along? I don’t have time for jury duty! How can I render unto God when I am having to render so much to Caesar? I’m not sure if I will make it on a jury – truthfully, they may want to think twice about asking. I have a track record at this point. I’ve been on one jury and was “let go” by another. The jury I was on lasted for one day. He was guilty, everyone knew it, everyone said it, and we went home. There were a lot of us that missed out on what should have been our normal schedule, in order to spend two days deciding this guy should go to jail. He shoved a man on crutches in front of a bus in order to get his prescription drugs. What part of guilty was in question??? The other jury I was considered for was an aggravated assault case. I answered “No” to the question that asked if I would consider the minimum sentence of one year. I and another woman were called back in to speak to the judge. He asked me again if I would consider the minimum sentence of one year for aggravated assault. So I asked him to define “aggravated.” Let’s just say my answer was still NO! I called Jim later to tell him why I was “excused” from the jury. Jim asked my why I said “no” and I told him because “heck no” would have been inappropriate for a preacher’s wife – only I didn’t really say “heck.” I can still hear him laughing on the other end of the call.
If you read my parenting post last week, you probably noticed I am a believer in discipline. I think people ought to behave. I think people that misbehave ought to be taught to avoid that mistake in the future. I think it is time to improve the character of our culture. So allow me to “render unto God” for just a minute. We have all sent Caesar his share – now let’s think about what we can give God for tax day.
- Let’s give him our praise. 1 Chronicles 16:25 – “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.”
- Let’s please God with what we say and do. 2 Corinthians 5:9 – “We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
- Let’s make sure that serving God matters the most. Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (If you owe it to Caesar – go ahead and render it!)
- Let’s pursue the best things in life. Proverbs 21:21 – “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”
I wish I didn’t have to pay taxes and I wish I didn’t have to sit on a jury – but I’ll do both when necessary. Jesus said to. But I’m also going to look around that jury room and ask God what I’m supposed to “render unto him.” Maybe I only think I have “better” things to do! Happy Tax Day… (never mind, that’s probably pushing it just a bit.)