Today is a rather significant day in America. For some it is a day of anxiety, and for others a day of rejoicing (depending on whether you are paying in or expecting a refund). It’s April 15th. Tax day! The ides of April.
Every year at this time, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 22. The Pharisees plan a trap for Jesus by asking him if they should pay the Roman taxes or not. If he answers one way, they can brand him a rebel against the Roman Empire and bring charges against him, but if he answers the other way, they can label him a heretic and traitor against Israel. But Jesus knows their intention, and holding up a Roman coin, he asks them “Who’s image and inscription is on this coin?” When they say it is Caesar’s, then Jesus utters the often quoted words, “Then render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.”
No doubt the taxman will get his share, but when you“render unto God what is God’s” what does that say about the way you treat your spouse? You see, if your love for God is reflected by your love for your spouse (which Jesus talks about just a little further down in chapter 22—and please remember that you’ll never have a closer or more intimate neighbor than your spouse), then are you giving your spouse what is rightfully due to her/him? Ask yourself…
- Do I give my spouse the time needed for a healthy relationship, or do I consistently let distractions pull me away?
- Do I listen attentively to my mate, or do I only care about getting my say?
- Do I give my covenant lover the emotional energy that rightfully belongs to him/her, or do I give away something that should be reserved for my marriage relationship alone?
- Do I extend forgiveness freely, or do I store up grudges?
- Do I have realistic and loving expectations of my lover, or do I demand perfection?
- Do my words reflect my love for my spouse, or do I say critical and hurtful things?
- Do I connect with my mate sexually, or do I unfairly withhold affection to get my way?
- Do I put our marriage at the center of our home, or do I allow family (children, parents, or whoever else) to control our lives?
- Do I seek out ways to be a blessing to my spouse, or do I selfishly wait to be served?
- Do I draw us closer to God as a couple, or do I put up barriers to my spouse’s faith?
Whether you do it systematically throughout the year or all in a mad rush on April 14th, preparing your taxes takes time and effort. You have to do a self-accounting of how you are using the resources you have been given. Hopefully, you see a good financial picture that honors God and cares for your family.
When you look at your marriage and do a self-accounting, what are you seeing? If I truly want to “render unto God what is God’s” then part of that is paying attention to my marriage, honoring my wife, and “rendering unto Lisa what is Lisa’s.” My God bless us all to give our spouses what is God-honoring and righteously due to them.