Saturday, February 4, 2012

Render unto Caesar

At the National Prayer breakfast this week, President Obama encouraged, once again, his notion of taxing the rich to give to the poor. This time he used Jesus to push his idea. Obama quoted Christ’s teaching that "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required."

Here’s the thing. Jesus Christ can say that, because, when it comes to God, it is true; Christians would agree that all we have comes from God, so it is just and reasonable to require much from us in return. The government, however, does not give us everything (yet), so they are not in the same position to require much from us.

Could we not say from these verses we’ll be judged for how we choose to use that which the Lord has given us—not that we’ll be judged by what the government forces us to pay?

When Christ said these words, I do not believe He was talking about fair taxes. In fact, in the same chapter, Luke 12, a man came to Christ, seemingly complaining about the unfairness of his brother’s inheritance:

13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:13-15).

Christ went on to remind them to lay up their treasures in heaven, not in the things of the earth.

And let’s not forget the inspiring account of the widow’s mite. The poorest of the poor giving her all. When Christ stood at the temple watching the wealthy put money into the treasury, a poor widow cast in just two mites. The Lord could have turned her away, telling her she didn’t need to give—let those who could spare more pay for her. But He understood that she would receive far more in return. Her sacrifice would strengthen her spirit, firm her faith. He understood that her self-reliance would foster self-respect. Christ, in His greater understanding could not deny those blessings of this faithful widow.

Interestingly enough, in the same speech where Obama suggested those who have the most should just take care of the poor, he also referred to the “Jewish belief that the highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their own.” Christ understood this. He allowed the widow to offer her mites. He knew that self-reliance brings self-respect, and that it doesn’t come by taking away responsibility. He taught all people that where their treasure is, their hearts would be also. And although he taught us to love and serve and care for each other, He also instructed:

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are C├Žsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt 22:21).


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful piece. It is so much better to teach a person to fish than to just give him fish. Obama follows the second scenario and doesn't understand the first. We need Mitt to help to get us out of our Obama mess.

  2. A Mother's Influence. I appreciate this little sidebar editorial on this blog. Mitt Romney is a man that, as a mother, I would be proud to hold up to my children as an exemplary human being. Newt G. makes me want to hide my head in shame. If he is the GOP nominee then our nation is at risk for more than just the economy, but morally and ethically as well. He lost his sacred honor years ago, and it is not something he can get back. Not the way he is still acting.