Play it straight

People can be very difficult. Unhappily in this life, there are those sufficiently arrogant as to try to manipulate the innocent to the point of destroying them in the eyes of others. It has always astonished me that there is in human nature a selfishness which seeks to damage other people.

We come across such an attitude in our next passage for consideration in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22 and verses 15 to 22. [please note that the story of the king and the marriage of his son in the first verses of chapter 22 is a variant of the last story in chapter 21, that of the vineyard owner – it concerns the same meaning: the Christian church is now the people of God].

The story is famous. The Pharisees tried to destroy Jesus reputation by asking him whether the Jews should pay taxes to the hated Roman occupiers. If he said Yes, he would be hated by the crowd; if he said No, then he would be in trouble with the Roman authorities for inciting rebellion against them.

Jesus does not avoid the question, but tackles it head on, and with the truth. Jesus was concerned for the truth, for the reality of the Jews position. The Pharisees only concern was to embarrass and destroy Jesus – someone they considered a dangerous rival to their authority and position – as indeed he was.

Jesus does not avoid saying that the Jews should pay taxes. But he simultaneously and convincingly explains why.

Whose head is on the money the Jews use as currency to conduct their trade and economy, he asks.

Caesar’s of course. So render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

Jesus reminds us all that we have responsibilities. We benefit from the work and actions of the governing authorities, therefore we should meet our obligations to them.

Roman rule brought peace and law & order. It provided justice in its tribunals, and it provided a reliable coinage for trading goods. There were real benefits for all, much as Roman rule was despised.

And this reminds us that we have responsibility before God to meet our responsibilities towards the government authorities in our own day. They are ordained by God, wrote Paul to the Roman believers, and we are to respect their God given authority.

Paying our taxes, for example. Taxes are not usually popular and many, many people try to avoid paying if they possibly can get away with it. But the Christian is required to pay over as a matter of obedience to God.

The Christian is required to meet his social responsibilities, and to be law abiding. The Christian should never be guilty of any moral crime, be it non-payment of dues or failing to treat others with respect.

The world around us says: do whatever you can get away with for yourself. But God says: live your lives as unto Jesus Christ, regardless of the human factors and situation.

Don’t cheat the tax man; don’t cheat on your husband or wife or indeed cause anyone else to do so.

Live uprightly and responsibly in all things because God sees and knows all.

Indeed it is by our deeds that we are known, and by our deeds that God will judge us.

Let us remember that !

Christian Preacher

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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