It’s that season again. All you need do is turn on your television and watch a network show for awhile any evening. At some point, you will see an ad about taxes.
Get your refund! Pay less to the government! Use our service and we guarantee you’ll pay less and get more!
Funny how words change meaning over the years, isn’t it? Did you know that taxes and tribute are the same thing? Well—were the same thing—once.
For forty years, it has been right in front of my nose. Forty years and I never saw it.
I was in high school the first time I heard the song, but I’ve never really thought much about the title. I simply considered it a strange thing to call a song.
That is the title of the song, but over the last thirty-eight years—the number of years I’ve been in the music business—it has rarely ever been asked for by name when a customer has needed the sheet music or accompaniment track for it.
Do you have a copy of “To God Be The Glory”?
We know by now to just go to the file and look up My Tribute. The song was written in the early 1970s by Andrae Crouch. It is still sung on occasion today. I’ve included the lyrics to the first verse somewhere below.
But, why would he name it My Tribute?
The words appear at no place in the lyrics of the song. Not once.
We have come to think of a tribute as a voluntary statement of esteem for a person.
Nancy Reagan, the widow of President Ronald Reagan passed away today and the tributes are thick on the Internet and in the editorial pages of the newspapers.
Frequently, songs are offered in tribute to the vocalists who first made them popular. We pay tribute to our mentors and teachers.
All these things are voluntary. We may refuse to offer these tributes, if we choose.
It hasn’t always been so.
The Teacher was approached by the followers of the religious leaders in His day. They, trying to trap Him, wondered aloud if He thought they should pay the tax to the hated enemy occupying their land. (Matthew 22:15-22)
Is the tribute to be given?
The Teacher knew their hearts, but still He would speak the truth they needed to hear. He asked them to show him the coin of the occupying forces—the very payment they were required to give to Rome. The denarius was produced and He held it up, asking what seemed a rather easy question.
Whose image and inscription are on this coin?
The would-be trappers were, instead, snared by their prey. Anyone could see it was Caesar’s image and title on the misshapen piece of metal. The answer given, they immediately had their own answer—one they could not twist to their own purposes.
Give to Caesar what is his. Give to God what is His, as well.
Do you suppose that last was added on as an afterthought? Did He intend only to tell them they must pay their taxes, but added the part about God only to seem pious?
I said He spoke the truth they needed to hear. All of it.
Do I need to ask the question? I will anyway.
In whose image are we made?
In our culture, we don’t think of it in the same way the religious Jews would have, but whose title is written clearly on us?
They had been commanded to put His Law in their hearts and minds, as well as writing them on their arms and their foreheads! (Deuteronomy 11:18-20)
Whose image and inscription are to be found on us?
The tribute will be paid. Without fail, it will be paid.
One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will pay the tribute. By force, if necessary. (Philippians 2:10-11)
Today, we may pay it freely, giving up the tribute to One who has loved and given Himself for us.
How would we not want to do that openly and joyfully?
Mr. Crouch had the right idea. We, who are made in His image and have His love written indelibly in our hearts, give our tribute.
What we owe. Nothing more, nor less.
To God be the glory!
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
(Thomas Ken ~ Anglican bishop ~1637-1711)
…and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
(Matthew 22:20-21 ~ NIV)
How can I say thanks for the things
You have done for me?
Things so undeserved yet you gave
To prove your love for me
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am, and ever hope to be
I owe it all to thee.
(from My Tribute ~ Andrae Crouch ~ American singer/songwriter ~ 1942-2015)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.