Render to God

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. [ones who followed King Herod] “Teacher, “ they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV, my extra note)

So the church leaders got together with the people who supported the governor and plotted how to show Jesus as a hypocrite and traitor. Nice folks! Just the kind you want following you around!

These ‘scum drinkers’ begin their plan with what could be seen as flattery. It is really a verbalizing of their own frustration and bitterness that Jesus is a man of integrity and truth and they are not! Remember Peter’s words about how we should be ready with an answer about Jesus but do it with such integrity that even those who speak maliciously about us – will also feel ashamed. (1 Peter 3:13-17)

The question is then asked about the rightness of paying taxes. We here even in the 21st century hold our breath to hear Jesus’ answer! Before the answer, however, comes His judgment, “You, hypocrites!”

When I come to Jesus and seek His will, His direction in a situation, Jesus is first going to respond to my heart-focus and then to my actions. Do I think I can hide my true agenda from Jesus and get Him to bless my actions? Do I remember the plea of the psalmist to:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NIV)

Jesus looked at their heart, spoke His judgment, and then answered the question.

I believe that I owe the government in the country where I live:

  • my prayer support

  • my participation in the democratic process of electing officials

  • my obedience to the laws. And if I disagree with those laws then I work within the system to exact change or submit to the consequence of disobedience.

May I seek Jesus’ answers today and not walk away but walk with Him.

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