Render the Tender

Some Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus said, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin.” They brought one. Then he said, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what belongs to God.” – Mark 12:13-17

Property disputes are well-known to children.

I witnessed many on the playgrounds of yesteryear. Child A takes Child B’s ball. Child B exclaims, “Hey, that’s mine!” Child A replies, “Really? I don’t see your name on it!” Some parents sharpie their children’s names on everything from basketballs to briefs for this very reason.

Roman coins in Jesus’ day took it a few steps further. They not only bore Caesar’s name but also his picture. Because those coins were clearly Caesar’s, Jesus logically says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

What Jesus says next—“Give to God what belongs to God”—is less obvious, but the same principle applies. What belongs to God? That which bears God’s name and image. What bears God’s image? We do. We are God’s children, God’s currency in this world.

It’s been said that our life is God’s gift to us and what we do with our life is our gift back to God. I would take it a step further. My life is not mine at all. My life belongs to God. My life is God.

I don’t live that awareness in every moment or even in most moments. Fortunately, deep belonging to God doesn’t need our awareness. God’s name is on us regardless.


Just for today, help me see your image in me and in those I meet. Let me see your name written on our hearts in permanent ink.

ddauthormattlaney2014.pngAbout the Author
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now