What We Owe as Christians
The 700 Club
- That question was asked of Jesus: "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar,
or not?" He said, "Show Me the tax money." They gave Him the denarius, on which
was a picture of Caesar. Then He asked, "Whose image and inscription is this?"
They said, "Caesar's." He answered, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that
are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (see Matthew 22:17-21). And
that has become the standard for what we owe the government.
We owe the
payment of taxes for the necessary services government renders to us. We owe a
law-abiding and honest type of personal life (see Romans 13:1-7). Especially,
we owe government informed, active citizenship.
We do not owe the government
the allegiance we owe God. To God we owe our worship and our loyalty. We must
remember that government exists only as long as God gives it the ability and the
When any civil government steps outside the mandate authorized by God
Almighty, then that government does not have any further claim over its citizens.
When the apostles came before the government of their day, they were commanded
not to speak about Jesus. They told the authorities that they could not help speaking
of the things they had seen and heard (see Acts 4:18-20). Even though they were
threatened with jail, beatings, and other reprisals, they continued to proclaim
their faith to the people. The apostles obviously considered the government's
power to be at an end when it began to restrict their freedom to worship God and
to proclaim their faith in Jesus.
In the United States, we believe that our
government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. We believe that
God has given certain inalienable rights, vested in humanity itself. The people
give their support to the government so it can do such things as build roads,
highways, and harbors; train armies; establish courts of law and maintain currency;
establish uniform standards; and do other things that individuals cannot do for
In our society, Caesar is all the people. When we are told to render
to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, that means we ourselves should be responsible
for government. Therefore, we owe the obligation of serving in public office,
of being informed citizens, of voting, and of being active in politics at all
levels. That is part of the duty we render to Caesar.
We give God the spiritual
allegiance that is His. We give Him our tithes, our offerings, our love, our worship,
and our testimony in praise. To the government we give good citizenship, knowledge
of the affairs of the day, and taxes that are due. We also give the government
our services as political figures, as statesmen, as public servants in every level
Some might ask: "But what are rights under a dictatorship or
a Communist government?" People have the same rights everywhere. Every man should
have the right to his own personal life, his property, his freedom of movement,
and his freedom of conscience. But there are some governments, such as those controlled
by the Communists that do not give those rights to the people. There is a totally
different mindset in the Communist world.
That does not change the order that
God established. Those under Communist domination must sometimes disobey the government.
They must continue to speak and testify to their faith in God, even though this
is very costly. Many of them go to prison. Many are tortured and beaten and deprived.
When they get out of prison, they go right back to testifying and preaching again.
We in America do not have any idea what those people have to go through in order
to practice their faith in God.
Still, we must recognize that the apostle Paul was living under
tyrannical Roman emperors when he wrote, in the book of Romans,
that Christians are supposed to pay taxes to whom taxes are due,
and that the civil government is not supposed to be a terror to
those who do well, but to evildoers (see Romans 13:1-7). He also
said Christians are supposed to pray for those in authority over
them, so that they might live a quiet and godly life. This is
so that the Word of God might go forth freely to the end that
all should come to the knowledge of the truth (see I Timothy 2:1-4).
This kind of praying even should be done for bad rulers and governments.
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