Sometimes it is helpful for us as Christians to think about how we live as like living in two worlds; both in the world as it is and in the world that God wants for us. As a Christians, it is often said that we need to live with a foot in both kingdoms, earthly and heavenly. But the everyday decisions we need to make then can be pretty tough to make. What is God’s and what is of this earth?
When Jesus says, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mat 22:21), he isn’t making things much easier. What is the emperor’s? The coins he makes? The taxes he creates and charges? The land he claims power over with force? And then what is God’s?
We know this is a question that Jesus followers have wrestled with and thought deeply about. Jesus calls us to be different, better. The Apostle Paul gave it much thought. In his letter the Roman’s he says something that echoes Jesus’ words when he writes, “Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” (Romans 13:7)
Ultimately, everything is God’s. No matter what we human beings lay our claim on, God always has the last say. So what do we have to give to God? Everything, of course, but to find some things more specific, I would point back to chapter 12 from Paul’s letter to the Romans (verses 9-18), where he writes,
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”