Tell us therefore, Whatthinkest thou? Is is lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
Matthew 15:17,21b (KJV)

We all own things and we always mark what we own in some way to prove that it belongs to us We have passwords in the high tech world and good old-fashioned signatures for the low-tech world. It’s all an attempt to prove ownership. In this passage Jesus beautifully portrays what it is to be owned by him and when owned what is demanded of us.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees come up with what they suppose is a question Jesus cannot wriggle out of. They fashion a question for him that they suppose must be answered with a single Yes or No answer. After some obsequious sounding flattery, they put the question to Jesus this way: “What do you think: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus asks to see one of the coins that would be used to pay the tax. This coin was a Roman denarius, worth about a day’s wage. On it was the picture of the emperor and the inscription: Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, high priest. Simple question and unavoidable answer; it is the image of the emperor. Jesus gives them their answer: “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render to God what is God’s.” (KJV) It’s the perfect answer to the perfect trick question. Jesus takes their small-minded perspective and explodes it to reveal the workings of God in our lives. The verb translated ‘render’ here often carries the sense of giving something “back” to who it belongs. The coin was given out by Rome so give it back to Rome. They are, like it or not, a part of Rome and have a duty to pay those taxes, but there is also an obligation to God.

So here is the key question: What belongs to God? The answer, I think, has to be – the things that bear his image. God wants what belongs to Him too and He has also marked it. When He created Adam and Eve He created them in “His image”. God’s picture is stamped upon or very souls. Jesus is asking for our hearts and lives in this passage. He understands that if He has our hearts He will have our money and talents and worship all by default. It’s a package deal. If there are certain parts of your life withheld from God then there are certain parts of your heart withheld from Him.

Our giving unto to Him is an outward sign of our inward condition. It is not just an obligation, but an opportunity for blessing. Hearts that belong to God rejoice in the opportunity to use what God has given them to worship Him; whether it be by the giving of money, time, talents or our life.

Philip James "Jim" Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attemptto evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. A story from his childhood makes us understand how he had the urge to give his whole life to Lord. The mother of a nine-year-old boy named Jim (Philip James Jim Elliot) received a phone call in the middle of the afternoon. It was the teacher from her son’s school. "Mrs. Elliot, something unusual happened today in your son’s third grade class. Your son did something that surprised me so much that I thought you should know about immediately." The mother began to grow worried. The teacher continued, "Nothing like this has happened in all my years of teaching. This morning I was teaching a lesson on creative writing. And as I always do, I tell the story of the ant and the grasshopper: "The ant works hard all summer and stores up plenty of food. But the grasshopper plays all summer and does no work. Then winter comes. The grasshopper begins to starve because he has no food. So he begins to beg, ’Please Mr. Ant, you have much food. Please let me eat, too.’" Then I said, "Boys and girls, your job is to write the ending to the story."

"Your son, Jim, raised his hand. ’Teacher, may I draw a picture?’ "’Well, yes, Mark, if you like, you may draw a picture. But first you must write the ending to the story.’ "As in all the years past, most of the students said the ant shared his food through the winter, and both the ant and the grasshopper lived.

A few children wrote, ’No, Mr. Grasshopper. You should have worked in the summer. Now, I have just enough food for myself.’ So the ant lived and the grasshopper died. "But your son ended the story in a way different from any other child, ever. He wrote, ’So the ant gave all of his food to the grasshopper; the grasshopper lived through the winter. But the ant died.’ "And the picture? At the bottom of the page, Mark had drawn three crosses.

No doubt realising the love of Christ and the sacrifice he was ready to be a sacrifice so that the gospel is shared. He was sure that he has been stamped by God.

We are going to celebrate Harvest Festival on the first Sunday of February. Can we have a look into our own lives and see whether we were able to give the best to God?

In Christ
Jijo Achen