Devotional for October 22, 2017 based upon Matthew 22: 15-22
A young boy wanted a hundred dollars, so he prayed to God for an entire week, but nothing happened. Finally he decided to write God a letter, requesting the hundred dollars. When the Post Office got the letter addressed to God, they forwarded it to the White House. The President was very impressed and touched, so he instructed an aide to send the boy five dollars. He figured that five dollars would mean a lot to the boy. Which it did. So the young boy sat down and wrote a note, which read, “Dear God, Thank you very much for sending me the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington. As always, they kept most of it.”
In our Gospel reading for this morning Jesus said, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (verse 21) Most of us accept the fact that we do have to give to Caesar. What Caesar wants, Caesar gets. And most of us just kind of accept that.
Giving to Caesar is not a problem for most of us. But for many, giving to God is a huge problem. So I would like to ask the question, WHY DO WE GIVE? Many churches hold their annual stewardship campaign during this time of the year. Why would we want to tell God in writing what we plan to do in providing financial support for and being involved in the ministry of the Church this next year?
First, we give to God the things that belong to God in RESPONSE to all that He has done for us. Times are tough. Money is short. Maybe financially times are tougher for you than they were a few years ago. But do you still have your health? Do you have people who love you? Do you have food to eat and a warm place to sleep? Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? Do you have a home in heaven? The truth is that we all have much to be thankful for. And so we give to God the things that belong to God, first of all, in RESPONSE to all that God has done for us.
Second, we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMEDY to the enslaving power of wealth. There comes a time for all of us when we have to decide what role money is going to play in our lives. Will we have money, or will money have us? It’s really interesting – and tellingly significant – that as people’s income grows, the percentage of their income that they give to charities declines. The more people earn, the less proportionately they give. You would think it would work the other way around. The more I earn, the more discretionary income I have, so the more I should be able to give. But that’s not the way it works.
A wealthy TV evangelist was dying in his mansion. He gathered his followers all around him to hear his one last wish. “Before I die,” he said, “I would like to take one last ride.” They asked him what he would need for that one last ride before entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. He replied, “I would like a very small camel and a very large needle.”
It’s happening to people all around us. No one of us is immune. People who used to worship God now worship money. And so we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMEDY to the enslaving power of wealth.
And then third, we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMINDER of who is number one in our lives. According to Deuteronomy 14, the whole purpose of the tithe is to teach us to always put God first. It’s simply a matter of priorities. It is simply a matter of doing what Jesus said – “Give back to God the things that belong to God.” Seek first His Kingdom, and then trust Him to provide and to take care of you.
This coming week ask yourself, “Am I truly giving back to God the things that belong to God?”
May the Holy Spirit so live in your life that you will find giving back to God easier, more important, and certainly more enjoyable than giving back to Caesar.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE