|Theme:||What do we owe to God? We owe Him our all! - Proper 24 (29)|
|Object:||A dollar bill or a coin with the image of a president or ruler imprinted on it.|
|Scripture:||Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Matthew 22:21 (NIV)|
Have you ever heard your parents or other adults complaining about having to pay taxes? You probably have. Most people are not too fond of having to pay taxes. Do any of you pay taxes? Well, it might surprise you to learn that kids pay taxes, too!
How many of you receive an allowance from your parents? Have any of you ever received some money as a birthday gift from your grandparents? How many of you have ever earned some money for doing some chores around the house? How many of you have ever bought anything with your very own money?
If you answered, "Yes" to any of these questions, you have probably paid some taxes. Did you know that every time you buy something, you pay a sales tax? In our state, that tax is about eight cents for every dollar you spend. I wonder what Jesus would say if we asked him whether kids should pay taxes? That is a tough question. If he answered, "Yes," all the kids would probably get mad at him. If he answered, "No," the politicians who make our laws would probably get mad at him because the state needs that money to operate. It seems that someone would get mad at him no matter which way he answered! It looks like a no-win situation, doesn't it?
Did you know that something like that actually happened? In Jesus' day, the people were required to pay a poll tax. It was not a very popular tax with the people. One day some religious leaders came to Jesus and asked him if he thought the people should pay the poll tax. They were actually trying to trick Jesus, because they knew if he said, "Yes," the people would be angry. But if he said, "No," he would get into trouble with the authorities.
Jesus saw right through their plan and he did a very wise thing. He asked them for a coin, then he said, "Whose picture is on this coin?"
They answered, "It is Caesar." Caesar was the Roman ruler and all taxes had to be paid to him.
Jesus then said to them, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God."
Look at this dollar. Whose picture is on it? It is a picture of George Washington, our first president. What does it say right above his picture? It says, "The United States of America." Well, I guess that means that this dollar belongs to "George" and we will have to pay our taxes.
But what about God? Jesus also said "Give to God what belongs to God." The Bible says that we were created by God and that we were created in the image of God. If we are created by God, and we were created in His image, we must belong to Him. That means we must give ourselves to Him!
Dear Father, you created us in your image and we belong to you. Because of that, we give our hearts and lives to you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.