Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Tax day was just a couple of weeks ago, but this passage still rings with vital meaning. I have been serving in ministry as my primary means of vocation for over twenty years now. And historically, April is always a low month for giving to the church... I suspect because Uncle Sam comes calling. And I feel the tension.
The past four years have seen a downturn for my own personal ability to give. I used to enjoy giving substantially to the church and missions (at times nearly a fourth of my income). But 2005 found seminary obligations decreasing that amount. That lasted through last year. And then has come this vividly hard year of 2009, where medical bills have piled up... dental work... unanticipated surgery for one child... orthodontics in the future for another child... and suddenly it is very hard to find the means to give generously.
But the thing that convicts me is that I still render to Caesar. They throw you in the Big House if you decide not to do that! Now, I am in a VERY LOW tax bracket (another outcome of ministry), but even at that, this year it appears that my rendering to Caesar will be more than my giving to God. That is a first for us.
My desire is by the end of third quarter 2009, to have paid off medical debts to the point where we can restore generosity to the work of God. In addition to this, I am praying for God to somehow supply some additional summer income, so this might happen sooner. My heart is to follow Jesus' clear command.