Jesus raised this question with one of his most familiar sayings. He was being tested by the religious leaders in Jerusalem.
They asked Jesus if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Caesar was the leader of the Roman Empire, an uninvited and unwelcome occupier in Jerusalem and Israel.
Since the Jews hated their Roman overlords, Jesus would be risking the displeasure of the people if he agreed with paying Roman taxes. But if he openly encouraged people not to pay their taxes then he would be seen as a threat to Rome, very hazardous.
Jesus’ response is famous. He asked his opponents for a coin, then asked them whose image and inscription were on the coin. “Caesar’s,” they answered. Jesus concluded, “Then give the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God.”
The men who came to trap Jesus were amazed by his response. They left without further comment.
The question and Jesus’ answer make it clear that the “things of Caesar” include money. But what about the “things of God”? Since money is at the forefront of their conversation, it is natural to ask what financial responsibility we have to God.
The Old Testament saint was instructed by God’s word to give a tithe (10% of income). What does Jesus say to his New Testament followers?
Jesus noticed a poor widow who gave two small coins as an offering to the Lord. Even though her money was not worth much, it was everything she had. Did Jesus rebuke her for giving such a meager amount? Was he troubled because she gave too much?
Jesus drew a contrast between the woman and the other worshipers. They gave out of their wealth, but she gave out of her poverty. Jesus praised her gift, not because of its great monetary value, but because of the great love and faith it expressed.
The Lord was not introducing a new command for God’s people to give 100% of their money in offerings. God blesses us with work and income so that we can provide for ourselves and our families. Jesus is honoring the widow’s special offering.
Jesus revealed his mind about giving when he told his followers this: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The one who gives a small portion to God has a small heart for God.
The cheerful giver is not restrained by rules and regulations. Tithing is a great starting point, but a debt of love is never paid in full because the heart of love is always eager to give.
Giving is an act of worship to God and an expression of agreement with God. We give regularly and generously to the Lord because we love him, and we want to participate in the victory of his great kingdom work.
May God’s Spirit inspire us to be cheerful givers to him and his kingdom,
Brother Richard Foster