In Mathew 22:15- 22 and Mark 12: 13-17 the Bible records an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees asking if they should pay taxes to Caesar.
Just to give you a little of context, the taxes they referred to were unpopular; just like today. Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Value Added Tax (VAT) and Digital Service Tax (DST) are not terms we want to hear. If Jesus had said yes, he would have been discredited in the eyes of people. Everyone would have seen him as a traitor who is on the side of the Romans. If he would have said No, he would have been accused of inciting the Romans and would be liable to prosecution and executed. Therefore, this was clearly a trap.
They wanted him to get caught up in his words. Him giving a yes would have been a good way to stir the people against him, while saying no would have ensured that they have a case against him before the Roman government as they were the rulers of the day. However, Jesus being most wise he identified from the beginning that it was a trap and the answer he gives will be used against him anyway hence he didn’t give a definite answer but brought out a timeless principle: Give to Caesar what belong’s to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.
Jesus communicated that as his followers we have citizenship on earth and citizenship in heaven. As a good God-fearing citizen, you have a responsibility to play in ensuring that the society you live in is better.
The Pharisees must have regarded his answer as wise by believing that Jesus said submit to the authority of the land, but also pay your tithe in submission to God. However, as much as this is true, Jesus meant something deeper. By saying give to God what belongs to God, he was referring to us- because we are made in his image. You bear God’s image, Genesis 1:26. God wants you to give him the whole of your life. Not just your tithe and your offerings. Not just your songs or your gifts, he wants you to begin with you and to give him everything concerning you and everything you have.
If the Pharisees didn’t have ulterior motives or were not hypocrites as Jesus constantly described them, they would have asked what is it that belongs to God? I believe Jesus would have asked and whose image is inscribed on you? The answer to this question can only be that God’s image is inscribed on you hence render to God what belongs to God and that is you. Give yourself to him.