Originally posted October 19, 2011, at A Constant Stream of Grace. Republished with permission of the author.
When the Pharisees and Herodians tried to trap Jesus into saying something damaging, they asked him about paying taxes to the emperor. “Is that right or not?” “Should we or shouldn’t we?”
Jesus responded by asking to see a coin. Turning it over in his hand, he asked one question and then another. “Whose image is imprinted here?” “And whose title is this?”
“Then give it to the emperor. And give to God what belongs to God.”
Jesus asked them, “Who minted this coin? Who made this money?”
God isn’t much interested in the things that are made by emperors, and surely not impressed with their money — or any money for that matter.
See, money is nothing more than an agreement among people about the value of copper disks and pieces of paper.
Those coins and bills represent agreements that facilitate our bartering, trading and commercial activity. And, while helpful, they tend to spawn heightened greed and hoarding. Desire for money misdirects the hearts, minds and vocations of many.
Jesus says, “Give it all to the one who made it. And give to God the things God made.”
This should give us pause. If the emperor mints money, what does God mint? What does God make? What belongs to God?
When I try to answer that question, I come up with interesting answers. God invented joy. And shalom. And understanding, wisdom, might and compassion.
God minted generosity. And faithfulness. Family, creativity, hope and love. God minted mercy.
If I attempt to give back to God the things God has made, I find myself in a whole-body, whole-mind, whole-spirit, whole-belonging and whole-wealth endeavor.
A 10 percent tithe is not what God desires. God desires that my every action, every expenditure, every thought contribute to the kind of peaceable reign God has minted for all of us. No wonder the Pharisees and Herodians walked away in amazement.
Find a link to Laura Holck’s entry on the blog A Constant State of Grace at Lutheran Blogs.