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Government and God

Daily Reading: Matthew 22

Scripture Focus: “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” Matthew 22:21

Devotional Thought: There is something satisfying about watching those Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and religious leaders try to one-up Jesus, only to be stunned into speechlessness by his wisdom and his “comebacks.” In one such encounter, the Pharisees have approached Jesus about the lawfulness of paying taxes to Caesar. The Jews resented the Roman government’s control over them and longed for their Messiah to overthrow the government. They were still so blind as to who Jesus was, and what he had come to do.

As usual, Jesus responds with a zinger that left them marveling. After pointing out Caesar’s inscription on the denarius (a Roman coin), Jesus says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” (v.21). In other words, yes, you are accountable to the governing authorities placed over you. Both Paul and Peter go into more detail later, with Paul’s instruction being quite clear. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,” (Rom. 13:1).

Depending on the ebbs and flows in our political system, that command can sometimes rankle! No less so for the early church, facing intense persecution under Roman government. Also, don't forget the last phrase in Jesus’s command! Render to God the things that are God’s. If we profess faith in Jesus, our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies belong to him. Do we act as though we believe that? Do we behave as those who have been brought out of darkness into marvelous light? As Paul would beseech his fellow believers, “By the mercies of God… present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship,” (Rom. 12:1).


Prayer: Father, help us to remember that we belong to you. We are no longer conformed to the patterns of this world, but transformed through your Spirit. Help us to present ourselves as a pleasing sacrifice to you.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 94.8-15

8 Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? 9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? 10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— 11 the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, 13 to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

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