Render Unto Caesar!

My heart has been bursting with praise to God! It's not the breathtaking changing leaves or the rolling valleys of Oregon (although those make me happy too), it is the exceeding goodness of God. When we obey God's commands in even a small way, God will give a joy that the world does not offer. God has been trying to teach me to honor my parents even in the small things and the rewards are bringing me great joy. Just recently I wanted to do something that I was advised against doing. I was a little disappointed, but I knew I should honor and obey. In obeying, God honored me by protecting my reputation. I did not foresee it, but if I would have disobeyed, my testimony as a Christian would have been damaged. I laid in bed that night praising God for honoring me and blessing me in a way that I did not deserve. All this to say, there is joy in obeying God's commands. We, and I, often view His commands as unachievable tasks that steal our freedom. The opposite is true! So, we may not obey every single command every second, but if you are genuinely trying to honor God's commandments, you will find the joy and blessedness that He wants every believer to experience. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:10-11).
Now for the command! This week the command is 'Render to Caesar.' "And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar's. Then saith He unto them, Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:20-21).The Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus trying to trap Him, and asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. The Herodiansbelieved it was lawful, but the Pharisees did not think they should be taxed. Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes, and that we should be giving God His due honor as well.
This is a very applicable command in today's political climate. As a conservative Christian, it can be easy to get in a tizzy-fit over the latest White House decision and blame President Obama for all of the U.S.'s woes. This command is not just a command to fork out our cash every April either. It is a command to honor authorities and rulers even if they are wicked, unreasonable, harsh, vile, nefarious people. "Submit yourselves unto every ordinance of men for the Lord's sake. Whether it be unto the king as supreme, or untogovernors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them that do well" (I Peter 2: 13-15). Peter goes on to say that we are to submit to authorities, not because they are our favorite people, but because it is God's will that we are blameless, having no cause for someone to accuse us of wrong.
When Peter was asked if his Master paid taxes, Jesus explained that although they were not required to pay taxes, they would so that they would not offend. (See Matthew 17:24-27). This is a theme throughout the Scriptures; godly men honoring wicked authorities even in undesirable situations. What is so grand about this command, is that it is the opposite of what we see as right and just!
What should we give to 'Caesar'? (i.e. those who have authority over you)
-Show them honor. Remember when King Saul was out to kill David and David still fell before him and refused to hurt him even when he had a chance? Honor is NOT dependenton how civil, loving, and warm-hearted the authority is...we are called to honor anyway."Servants be subject to your masters with all fear. Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully" (I Peter 2:18-19).
-Pray for them: "I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercession, giving of thanks, be made for all men. For kings and for all that are in authority; that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour" (I Timothy 2:1-3).
-Do good works: "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work" (Titus 2:14-3:1). Write them a thank you note, bake them cookies, offer to  do something without reimbursement..
What should we give to God? (This is not an exhaustive list..)
-Give God reverence: "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour unto him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:17).Honor God in your thoughts, words, deeds, and motives. Honor Him by obeying His commandments. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that lovethme: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself unto him" (John 14:21).
-Give our lives to God. "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). 'Christ gave coins to Caesar because they bore his image, we should give our lives to God because we bare God's image.'
-Give God offerings: give Him offerings of praise and thanksgiving and also of our firstfruits.
-How can you pray for your authorities?
-In what ways are you doing good works for those in authority over you?
-Have you made a commitment to honor even your wicked authorities?
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth theordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation" (Romans 13:1-2).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ Study Guide and pocket guide

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you so much for sharing this, Elanee! Just the type of "joy-shot" that I needed tonight =) It is such an encouraging blessing to hear of your obedience, and God'ds never-ending faithfulness! Love you friend! May we all "keep on, keeping on"! And fight the good fight of faith!