Giving back to God what is His

Published 9:10 am Friday, August 11, 2017

By Hunter Greene
A couple of summers ago, I remember the day I got my first paycheck at my first adult job. We got paid every two weeks, and I thought the check would never come. I remember how hard I worked from getting up at 4:30 a.m. to scrubbing floors to moving entire classrooms full of furniture. I had given blood, sweat, and tears for two weeks, and I was ready for my reward. I opened up the envelope, and I could taste the milkshake I was going to buy with this money. I scanned the top of the sheet as my eyes popped open wide in amazement at the large sum of money I had made. I was so proud. It was my money that I had worked for. Then I noticed that there were more numbers under my net income. My mouth dropped in unbelief. I was paying social security, and I wasn’t 65. I looked again and the federal government thought they would take some for themselves as well. What was once a big paycheck, to me at least, now had become much smaller. It is no secret: paying taxes is not fun.
I have come to realize that although the cash might be in my pocket, it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the federal government. They determine what shape each bill has, what color it will be, how much value it has. On each bill, the words “The United States of America” are printed at the top. The government determines which president or American hero gets printed on the face of the bill. The government created the money and therefore, they own the right to take it back when they want or need it. Bottom line, the government wrote their name and printed their image on each bill so all the money in your pocket, bank, and piggy bank belongs to them, not you.
Some of the Pharisees at the time of Jesus were having a hard time accepting the social security tax and the federal withholding out of their paycheck. They did not like that Caesar was taking all their hard-earned money, but Jesus reminds them that it was never their money to begin with. Matthew 22:15-22 says, “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” You see, the money belongs to Caesar because it bears the image of Caesar, and your life belongs to God because it bears the image of God. You were created in the image of God and you were bought with a price by the precious blood of Jesus. Every breath you take belongs to your Almighty Creator.
When I look at my own life and the life of the local church, I don’t really see that we are giving back to God what is His. We have given a lot to Caesar and very little to God. We have given a lot to our worldly desires, and what is left back to God. I believe if we want to see our drug infested county and tired churches experience the revival of a consuming God, we must give back to God our sin, our love, and our praise.
The Church needs to get the sin out of the pews before it ever gets the sin out of the world. For years, we have stomped and hollered and yelled about the world’s sin but hardly ever address our own. When it comes to preaching sin, I feel that all we ever preach on is homosexuality, drunkenness, and fornication. I believe that all three of those are wrong, but if we are completely honest with ourselves, most of the churches in this county haven’t even seen a homosexual, a drunk, or a prostitute in their congregations on Sunday. If they have, I know it is very rare. So why are we preaching against sin that our own congregations don’t struggle with? I think to have revival, we must start preaching on divorce, gossip, pornography, laziness, greed, complaining, judgement, and a host of other sins we can’t see on the outside like we do with drugs or alcohol. Before we can save the world, judgement must start at the house of God.
We also must give up our love. Many of our churches have plenty of church dinners for church people. We have visitation nights for church people. We have church people over to our house for dinner. We have plenty to do for church people. The problem is we have basically become a country club of Christians where sinners that need Jesus don’t feel welcome. God wants us to give up our love and give it to those who need it most. Matthew 25 tells us that the poor, the naked, the thirsty, the imprisoned, and the hungry are those that deserve our attention and resources. Before you plan your next potluck, see if you can use that money to help a single mom and three kids just down the street that are struggling and starving for love and community.
Finally, we must give our praise back to God. We want to talk about guns, rebel flags, mud, trucks, sports, politics, food, each other, but when it comes to the things of God, we fall silent. There is no excuse for our churches to feel like a funeral home. We act like Jesus is still in the grave, and we just pass by His tomb on Sunday mornings. He is alive! I believe the Church needs to start acting like it. Sing, cry, dance, and shout about the fact He has defeated death, hell, and the grave. We are victorious! If you don’t have anything to say, just yell, “JESUS!!!”
Go out this week and be an image-bearer of the God of the universe. Let revival start in you.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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