When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (Matthew 17:24-27)
While reading this passage in Matthew, my mind focused in on Jesus’ question to Peter: “From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons, or from others?”
With this being the final week of tax season, I thought Jesus’ teachings may be relevant. However, knowing that Jesus’ teaching to the disciples always focus on the Kingdom of God, I knew the point wasn’t whether or not to pay taxes to the government (sorry…), but rather, it was to get Peter thinking about the way God’s Kingdom works. So, while many of you last-minute-people scramble to get your taxes filed, the question in my mind is, what would be the taxes required of men by Heaven?
As I prayed about this, the only requirement to “pay heaven” that I know of is the Old Testament tithe. This was a legal requirement on the nation of Israel and when they did not fulfill this requirement, they were accused of “robbing God” (Malachi 3:8). So then, the tithe might possibly be viewed as the King of Creation, taxing those who live in His Kingdom.
The distinction in Jesus words, then, comparing things with earthly kingdoms, becomes the fact that sons of the King don’t pay taxes. This is because, as heirs, they already own everything in the kingdom. The same is true with God’s Kingdom as well. We are heirs to it all when we are adopted as Sons through faith in God.
Peasants paying taxes to the Kingdom for the rights He affords them, is different than the Sons of the King owning everything, yet using their resources to advance the Kingdom onward.
What this means for the Christian is that God, our Father, doesn’t want us to simply pay our tithes or give our offerings out of a religious sense of duty like paying taxes to the government. It certainly doesn’t work as if we are paying the heavenly government’s fees in order to receive some kind of spiritual social security or medicare. Rather, as the Sons and Daughters of the Kingdom, everything we have is to be stewarded so that the building of the Kingdom continues.
This means that our giving comes from a heart of love, and will often exceed well beyond a “legally required” ten percent. It means, that like Christ, we are willing to give all we have and all we are that the mission continues on.
Sonship means that the mission of the Kingdom falls on us – time, effort, and finances. If we don’t feel that responsibility, then perhaps our Sonship is what should be in question, not our heart for charity.
So this year, as you ‘render unto Caesar’ what belongs to him, don’t forget to give God what is His: yourself.