“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

Matthew 22:21

In this story, the Pharisees, along with some supporters of Herod, put Jesus between a rock and a hard place. They knew that paying taxes to Rome was extremely unpopular among the people. If Jesus advised them to pay taxes, his popularity as the potential Messiah would plummet. Yet if Jesus dared to say that they shouldn't pay taxes, he would be setting himself up for a fatal encounter with Roman wrath. So the question posed to Jesus—“Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”—was indeed a tricky one.

Jesus' didn’t answer the question in the way his interrogators anticipated. “Give to Caesar” could be translated more literally as “Give back to Caesar.” In other words, if you’re going to use Caesar’s money, go ahead and give it back to him. If you’re going to live in the world, do what the world requires. But then, Jesus continued, “Give back to God what belongs to God.” This is what really matters.

Our giving to God is always, in a sense, giving back. When we give financial gifts to Christian ministries, we are giving back a portion of what God has given to us. When we give ourselves to God’s service, we are giving back a portion of the life he has given to us. When we consider just how much God has given to us, most of all in Jesus Christ, we realize that we should give back to God, not just a portion, but all that we are. Indeed, we belong to God—our bodies and minds, our hearts and spirits.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What has God given to you? What do you give back to God? What more might you give to God in gratitude for all that he has given to you?


All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

 “I Surrender All”
Judson Van DeVenter, 1896
Public Domain


When we become Christians, we don't merely choose an eternity in heaven over hell. Rather, we are "born again"; like a newborn child, each of us enters into a new life that we fully inhabit, day-in and day-out. God desires that we pursue a relationship with him every day, in all aspects of life. When we try to live daily life for the sake of his glory, he deems it sacred.

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