Mark 12:1-27; 1 Kings 3; Hosea 6; Hosea 7:1-2
“’Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?’ But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, ‘Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.’” (Mark 12:15 NKJV)
Jewish leaders were frustrated that they always lost whenever they were at odds with Jesus, so they gave Him an impossible test, or so they thought. “Should we pay taxes to the oppressive, pagan Roman government or not.” Jesus called for a coin and used the coin to throw the test back in their faces: give to God what belongs to God and to the state what belongs to the state. Solomon faced another test. He called for a sword as two women argued over the mothership of a child. He turned the test back on the two women arguing by offering to split the child in two, knowing that the real mother would rather give up her child than to see it killed.
There’s a standard dad joke whenever someone talks into a microphone and says, “Testing, testing.” Yep, it’s “Nobody told me there was going to be a test.” Let’s face it, as Christians we face all kinds of tests every day. Will we stay true to God or will we falter? The key to passing these tests is, first, to recognize that these are tests from those in the world who question your faith. Then, learn to turn the test around. People who are testing your faith to trick you up need to have their motives questioned. People who aren’t Christians who seek to tell us how Christians ought to behave need to learn that not all Christians behave the same way in each circumstance, and that’s ok. When people are genuinely questioning, find out what they think. If you agree with them, explain why you, as a Christian, do. If you disagree with them, find the opportunity to share why you, as a Christian, think differently. Just remember to respond in a loving attitude at all times. Even the greatest opponents of Jesus will recognize genuine love.
Father, give me the wisdom to recognize when I’m being tested and the strength to respond in a way that honors You.