Mark 12:17 - And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,
and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him
I think I would have been amazed too! However, probably not for the same reasons they were. If that had been me back then, or let’s face it…me right now…I would want to know what I could give to the guy who, not only has everything but actually made everything! I mean, I can’t exactly knit God a sweater or make him a roller bottle of essential oils. He made the oils and he probably doesn’t get cold.
So what while I am giving my taxes and time to the government, I have to think about the one thing that I can give to God that the government can never demand or take from me. See they might be able to take my job, my money, my home or anything along those lines. Subsequently, those same things are of little interest to God, beyond our ability to bring others closer to God through those avenues: money, hospitality, witness etc. But the one thing the government can’t take is my heart and ironically, it is the one thing God can’t take either.
He gave us free will. So, while God may be the guy the literally has everything, he doesn’t have my heart until I give it to him. He doesn’t have your heart until you give it to him. So what does he do while he waits? He shows us his love for us in a zillion little and big ways.
He can’t force us to love him above all else. He can’t demand it from us. Yet, it is the one gift He longs for more than anything. So much so that He allowed his own son to suffer and die for us. He loves us without limit! But we have to choose to respond. We have to choose to love him with our whole heart.
Now I know I may be preaching to the choir here but here is my challenge for us today. Take a raw, honest look at our lives…right here, right now. Not who were once were or where we hope to get to, but right now.
Do we love God more than anything else…above all else?
Do we love him more than our favorite show on TV?
Do we love him more than our favorite food?
How about more than a season or holiday?
Do we love him more than our favorite cozy sweater?
Those all may seem like silly questions but they are all things we often use the word love for so that is why they are worth mentioning. But what about these….
Do you love Him more than your children? How about your spouse? And then what about ourselves? (that one may be is easy to answer because we don’t always love ourselves well at all)
If we ever had to choose between things we say we love and God, the first group might be easy yeses. Of course I love God more than my favorite food or cozy sweater. I might miss them but I could give them up for God (I think…I hope)
But please God, don’t ever ask me to be Abraham with Issac. I am not sure I would be strong enough to allow my child to die, much less be the one the cause it and then still love God afterward. I think it would be hard enough not to blame God when you lose a child. Thankfully I have never had to deal with that but I am always so humbled and amazed when I see a grieving parent turn toward God rather than away in anger. It's beautiful to behold and honestly, I believe, the only way to get through it.
Does that mean I haven’t given God my whole heart? I am asking that honestly, without an answer of my own. I run myself in circles every time I ask myself what part of my heart I am withholding from God? I love God and I want to give my whole self to him. Yet, I know it is a journey of one decision after another rather than a single moment.
How many times do I lay a burden at the foot of the cross only to walk away and realized I dragged that burden away with me? Probably as many times as I surrender my whole heart and then wake up days, weeks, a year or even minutes later to realize I have given my heart over to something worldly…again.
So basically…what do you give the guys that has everything? You give him your heart. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. And if maybe you find that you gave it but then took it back again, you need only offer it in surrender again and God’s receives that gift with the same measure of joy. Not like we as humans. Once we get burned by someone, we are cautious and we hold back next time they try to offer again.
So the guy that has everything only has everything when you give it to him…freely. So let’s do a heart check today and see if there are any parts of our heart that we have kept from Him. If so, may our prayer be one of surrender.
Song Suggestion: First Love by Chris Tomlin