This piece of scripture contains many insights, especially into the nature of money and the kingdom of God. So often in many modern churches we hear the message that God wants you to be rich. This is the thrust of the wealth ministries that plague the Christian church today. And many Christians fall away or stumble when they don’t achieve the financial success these ministers promise. But that is not the promise of the Lord and we can see part of His reasoning in this section of scripture.
Render to Caesar the Things that are Caesars
When the Pharisees in their craftiness came to Jesus to try and catch him out, they asked, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Verse 21-22) Note how they attempt to butter him him up and suck up to Jesus while working their guile. Flattery today is just as much a cloak for evil as it was then, so beware.
Jesus knew what was going on though and was not fooled by their trickery for a moment. He said, “Show me a coin. Whose likeness and inscription has it?” They said, “Caesar’s.” (Verse 24) And then Jesus gave that classic response. “He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Verse 25)
The Problem of Money
What was it that was Caesar’s? Money! Money is the creation of man, and specifically the governments of man. Money is not of God. He does not want your money, he wants you.
Jesus even taught that it would be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, comparing it to a camel going through the eye of a needle. If that is the case, then why would it be God’s desire for man to be rich financially as these modern wealth ministries contend? Why would God want to put a stumbling block in the path of his people to make their walk that much harder through giving them wealth?
The simple answer is that he wouldn’t. He has promised to give us all we need, such as food, clothing and shelter. But he did not promise we would be financially rich.
The true wealth the Lord wants to give us comes in the form of insight, wisdom, love and the knowledge of the truth which leads to salvation. Money cannot buy these things for they are the gifts of God.
The truth that comes from God leads to freedom. But money binds many people with insatiable cravings and desires. Consider these few scriptures.
“For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10) and “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
Jesus said, “The truth will make you free.” (John 8:32) But those who seek financial gain in this world are seeking bondage. Money binds a person up because those who have it are constantly worried that it will be taken away. They worry about inflation eating into it and recessions and the instability in the stock market.
Money is so fragile that it can lose its value overnight. Look at the devaluation of most major world currencies in the current GFC. Consider that if the Greek economy falls over, how much will their currency be worth? Virtually nil. And the domino effect if that nation’s economy fails would ripple throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
The true wealth God has for us is not fragile or temporary like money. The Almighty is far greater than the false but so called almighty dollar. As Christians we can take heart that for our lives, the buck stops with God, not in the illusion of financial security that can be snatched away in an instant.
Give God the glory and recognise the true wealth that he promises.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Ivan Prole)