It's Tax Day - NOT
Updated: Apr 20
Wednesday - April 15th
Today's Scripture to Read: Mark 12:13-17
Usually, this is the day of panic in the United States. It is April 15th, the day our annual tax returns are due. April 15th is generally a day of pressure and frustration for many Americans each year.
This year, however, things are different. If there is any bright side to the world being held in suspended pause while fighting the Coronavirus, it would be that Federal and State authorities in the United States have delayed tax payments and tax returns usually due today.
I will never forget the time that one of my three kids was filing taxes on their own for the first time. After completing a very simple 1040EZ, they were exhausted by the pressure they felt from the process. This particular child, in their late teens at the time, looked at me and asked me a straightforward question. "So, when do I have to do that again?" My response, of course, was, "Next April 15th." They were stunned. "What? I have to go through this every year?" Ah, to be young and naive! Welcome to adulthood in the United States of America!
Seeking to put Jesus in a situation to trap Him and discredit Him with the people and the Roman authorities, the religious leaders sent secret spies and troublemakers to trip Jesus up. In Mark 12:13-17, these troublemakers asked a particular question that they believed would embarrass and discredit Jesus no matter if He answered it with a "yes" or with a "no." In verse 14-15, the text says, "Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn't we?"
If Jesus answered "yes," then He demonstrated disloyalty to the Jewish nation, and its God by being in support of the Roman oppressors. If Jesus answered "no," then His words would be repeated to Roman leaders who would move against Jesus and His followers. Jesus did not fall for the trap. He asked for a coin, pointed out Caesar's likeness on the coin, and suggested this should be given to Caesar because it is Caesar's in the first place. Then He said we should give to God what is God's.
Jesus did not fall for the trap the leaders had set. He navigated well what the troublemakers threw at Him. The story ends with troublemakers and religious leaders being amazed at His response to their questions. Jesus discerned between our earthly citizenship and responsibility and our heavenly citizenship and responsibility. Today it seems far too many Christians emphasize one citizenship to the exclusion of the other.
In His response, Jesus does not try to give some complicated, esoteric answer to the question they raise. Nor does He attack or seek to discredit those who asked the question. He gave a clear, principled answer about valuing and being stewards of both our earthly citizenship and our eternal citizenship.
In an election year, we must navigate with a similar approach that Jesus lived out. We are citizens of earth and citizens of Heaven. Don't let Satan convince you that one matters and the other doesn't. How you handle the stewardship of both citizenships will speak volumes to the world watching you. Have you gotten so focused on your heavenly citizenship that you ignore your earthly one? Are you so concerned with your earthly responsibilities that you don't see yourself as a representative of Heaven?
Ask God to give you balance today. Thank Him for the citizenship you have here in the United States. Thank Him that your ultimate and eternal citizenship rests in Heaven itself. And thank Him that your taxes are not due today!
The promise of your eternal citizenship in Heaven should directly shape how you live out your earthly citizenship!