Mark 12:1-27; 1 Kings 3; Hosea 6:1-7:2
It was another trap for Jesus. The Herodians, who supported the government, and the Pharisees, who didn’t, came to Jesus and asked whether or not they should pay taxes. The wording of this trap was somewhat admirable because they put Jesus in the same dilemma that He had put the Chief Priests in noted in yesterday’s thoughts. Jesus, however, wasn’t one to be stuck by dilemmas: “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marveled at Him.” (Mark 12:17) These words are vital to surviving in any society. Paul, living under the repressive Roman regime, reminded us of the positive aspects of government. At the same time, we should never let government replace God in the work we support and do. Never should we let government dictate that we go contrary to God’s plan. To quote Peter: “We must obey God rather than men.” And so the dilemma continues today. Those of us who follow Christ have either allowed the government to usurp the work of Christians or inherited a world where that has happened. In many cases, the government has taken control because Christians failed to act as we should have. At the same time, we see government encroaching on life activities that are a part of faith. At one time people who went to church on Sunday and then didn’t let the teachings of Christ affect their lives were called hypocrites. Now, people who seek to follow Christ at all times are vilified. (At the same time, those who go to church without letting their faith affect their lives are still scorned and attacked as hypocrites.) With all that going on, let’s face facts: we will never be accepted by the world and those who support the government if we live our faith. If we compromise with the world, our “faith” will be accepted to a degree, but we’ll still be seen in a bad light for even attempting to believe. The end result for Christians: we must give to Caesar (government and society) those things they are due because we live in this world; we must be sure first of all, though, to give to God His due because He must come first.
Lord, it’s difficult living in this world today. I want to honor You first of all and I want to respect my responsibilities as a citizen. Yet some so-called responsibilities conflict with what I see Your will to be. Help keep me true to You and teach me Your will. When following You puts me in conflict with the world, let me be full of grace as I deal with others.