What does, “Give to God what is God’s” mean? Doesn’t everything belong to God? If there are things that we don’t give to God, then do we know what God requires of us at all?
One place where we read of Jesus talking about this is in the book of Matthew when the Pharisees ask Jesus about paying taxes. They weren’t expecting the response that he gave. They thought their trap was perfect. If he said, “Don’t pay taxes,” the privileged class, the Herodians, would report him to the authorities. If he said, “Pay the taxes,” the subjugated people would riot against him.
“Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22: 17-21 NIV
Giving to the false god
Jesus could have said, “Give to the false god what is the false god’s, and give to God what is God’s.” After all, the man pictured on the money, Tiberius, thought he was a god and that everything belonged to him. Therefore, he demanded a tribute/tax from every person in his empire. Giving to this god meant giving him money and land, which he thought gave him power and authority. Today, still have false gods, although they often aren’t embodied in a person.
The Pharisees and Herodians who had approached Jesus loved this god. They loved the material more than the eternal, privilege more than people. They pursued their own glory, not God’s. Jesus knew this, of course. He pointed out their hypocrisy by reminding them of how shallow their pursuits were in light of what truly matters.
Giving to God what is God’s
What belongs to God? Everything! But most of all, he wants our hearts. Isaiah 29:13 NIV says, “These people come near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Our Lord, who owns “cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)” does not need our money. The God who says”the earth is my footstool (Isaiah 66:1)” does not care about fancy church buildings. What he tells us is,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 NIV (emphasis added)
If God wants our hearts and our treasure is where our hearts are, then God’s requirement is to be our greatest treasure! Is he your greatest treasure?
If, in your heart of hearts, he isn’t, then repent. Share below what it means to you to have Jesus as your greatest treasure.