Rendering to Caesar—and Thanking God

It’s tax time. April is the month when both Canada and the United States require that their citizens “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17, KJV). Whether the due date is April 15 or 30, tax time demands that we review what we have earned over the past year, determining how much of that income we must pay in order to enjoy the privileges of living where we do.

But tax time is more than a calendar deadline; it is also a time to reflect. As I gather my receipts and other documentation, I take time to reflect on a number of things.

Honestly, my first thought is how much money I pay in taxes. It seems that every year local, state or provincial, and federal taxes continue to rise. It is expensive to live in a place where there are good roads, beautiful recreational areas, just court systems, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and representative governments. Costly? Yes. Worth the price? Absolutely!

That is not to say that I want to pay more than I must, however, so part of my preparation is sorting receipts into different categories. I always find it interesting to see the many different ways in which my family spends its money. There are mortgage payments, property taxes, donations, utilities, groceries, restaurants, insurance, vacations, car expenses—the list goes on.

I also take note of what my family and I earn each year. The humbling reality is that while the majority of people around the world live in or on the edge of poverty, my family has everything we need, many things we want, and plenty to share.

God has blessed me with so much. He has provided not only all my material needs, but so much more. I live in a wonderful place and was raised by loving parents. I have a great spouse and wonderful children, not to mention 10 grandchildren. Life has been good, and God has been a wonderful provider. I am blessed beyond measure.

Since God has done all this for me, in addition to the great gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus, how can I not thank God by giving back? For you and I are not only citizens of a country, we are citizens in the kingdom of God. Our allegiance is to the creator and redeemer of all. If we pay taxes to an earthly “kingdom,” should we be surprised that God asks us also to contribute to his kingdom projects?

God has given us everything that we have. We profess together that our world—our entire world and everything in it—belongs to God. He cares deeply about the world and the people he has created. God also cares about our wealth and how we use it. The book of Proverbs is filled with directions for how to use what God has provided. Jesus spoke time and time again about the same thing.

Of course, as we reflect on all this with grateful hearts, we also remember to pray for and reach out to those who do not experience the blessing of paying taxes. Poverty, unemployment, and so many other factors may make April seem like just another cold, dreary month in a long winter of ongoing need.

So as we prepare our annual tax returns, I invite you to consider with me what God has done and is doing in our lives. Consider how we can say thank you with our gifts and with our talents. This year, rather than complain about high taxes and government spending, I plan to thank God for all his provisions. Please join me.

About the Author

Jerry Dykstra served as the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America from 2006-2011.
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