BIG IDEA: When we see everything as God’s we can start to ask him to instruct us how to use it.
SERIES: The Most Important Question Ever Asked – A Study in the Gospel According to Mark: John Mark, a traveling companion of the Apostle Peter, wrote this gospel. We trust his writing because of that tie to Peter, an Apostle of Christ. He writes this gospel by taking down Peter’s account of Christ. It’s written likely because the Apostles were aging and their stories needed to be told for the coming generations. These are essentially the memoirs of Peter written to a group of Christians in Rome, and it’s written with a sense of urgency. Jesus came to accomplish a mission and to do so with a remarkable sense of urgency. Throughout the entirety of the gospel, there is the most important question ever asked: Who do you say Jesus is? Fist gospel written.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 12:13-17
13 yAnd they sent to him some of zthe Pharisees and some of zthe Herodians, to atrap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, bwe know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For cyou are not swayed by appearances,3 but truly teach dthe way of God. Is it lawful to pay etaxes to fCaesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing gtheir hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why hput me to the test? Bring me ia denarius4 and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.”17 Jesus said to them, j“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
Over the next several weeks, we will jump around the gospel according to Mark instead of continuing our chronological journey in order to address what we’re calling the Heart of Generosity. We’re going to take a look at what it means to be generous and to steward our finances well.
When Sideris started in 2014, we embraced a financial model where external supporters of our mission would provide start-up capital and pledge ongoing financial support over our first three years as a church. We envisioned a model where these external donors would diminish as the population of Sideris grew both in number and generosity.
For 2017, our goal was to support 70% of our budget through internal giving. As we project our internal giving through the end of the year, we may be shy of that goal (somewhere around 65%). Because we always envisioned being a financially self-sufficient church by the end of 2018, we are hoping to see the continued growth of our internal giving over the course of the coming year.
- Context: Jesus had been teaching all throughout Israel, and in this story, the religious leaders in the city are trying to catch him in a lie, blasphemy, contradiction, etc. So they ask him this question about taxation, knowing that there were people in the crowd would dislike any answer he might give.
- What is “Caesar’s”? The coinage of the day. The Roman govt created the coins and had the power and influence to make sure that the value it represented stayed the same. Rome is the only reason it means anything. Caesar was sovereign, in a sense, over all of the things that he had given to the people. But God is the one who has granted Caesar the privilege to rule in this way (Romans 13).
- Two Choices: Pay the tax or move somewhere else. Jesus explains that paying taxes to Caesar is not a sin. It doesn’t go against the law of God because God has placed Caesar in his position. Believers are to obey the law of the land up to the point that the law doesn’t ask us to break God’s law.
- Why not revolt? During his time, Jesus stood against the people who wanted to revolt of his day: the Zealots. People often thought Jesus was one of them, but time and again he denied that affiliation.
- Principle: That which you accept from a sovereign is under command from said sovereign. You use dad’s car, you follow his stipulations for using his car.
- What is God’s? All those things which he has given. Every, single, thing that God in his sovereignty has given for our benefit. Literally, everything. There is not one good thing in our lives that God is not responsible for giving to us. Therefore, he has the right to tell us how best we use those things.
- What’s his command? If we choose to use the things he has given in ways other than he has commanded, then there will be discipline. There will be consequences. His command: use _____ as you please, unless God has instructed you otherwise. God has already instructed us otherwise.
- The Sin: We often ask God what he wants us to do with the things he has given, and when he tells us, we say, “wait, no, that can’t be right,” and we go and do otherwise.
- A Rebellious Heart: The same rebellious heart that hates to pay taxes or “give to Caesar” is the rebellious heart that doesn’t want to obey God’s commands. You have a hard time giving to God what is God’s.
- Imago Dei: God created man and woman in his image. We bear the image of God, just like the coin bears the image of Caesar. We belong to God, and therefore he gets to tell us how to live our lives. We are to give ourselves – all of who we are – back to God.
- But I worked hard for _____: Maybe you did! You probably did work hard to earn the money that you have or the house that you own or the friends that you developed. But where would any of those things be without God? You wouldn’t have any of it! We don’t get to pick and choose what we give to God.
- Money is Tied to Heart: Everything in our society is attached to a monetary value. You can sue for emotional distress and receive money as compensation. This is part of why God asks us to give of our finances. If you can give your money, you remind yourself to whom you belong.
- Ask Yourself: what am I going to let the Creator of the Universe touch in my life? What am I going to acknowledge his sovereignty over? Because whatever you give to him, he will make infinitely valuable.