Epiphany 2022, Gospel of Matthew, Day 34 of 58

Start your Year on Sure Footing, Gospel of Matthew, Day 34 of 58

Reading

Matthew 17:14-27

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2017%3A14-27&version=NIV

Scripture

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Observation

I loved how another author interpreted this text:

“Jesus used the question about the temple tax to teach a lesson. Christians are free, but they must sometimes relinquish their rights in order to uphold their witness and not cause others to stumble. True freedom is not serving ourselves but others” (GotQuestions.org)

https://www.gotquestions.org/temple-tax.html

Application

Jesus wanted us to preserve our ability to witness to the world. Sometimes, we have to obey laws or elected officials we disagree with in order to provide a witness of Christian love in the world. We should only defy laws we deem unjust when to obey those laws would cause a loss of human life or a complete abandonment of our faith. We should only defy duly elected leaders when those leaders command us to do something that defies the will of God such as expressed in Scripture and as understood through the lenses of tradition, reason, and experience.

One blog from Biola University offers a helpful list of categories where Christians might need to disobey government authorities:

* If your government instructs you to kill someone (Exodus 1:15-21).
* If your government instructs you to engage in false worship (Daniel 3).
* If your government instructs you not to pray (Daniel 6).
* If your government instructs you to stop sharing the gospel (Acts 4:17-20; 5:27-29; 5:40-42). (Biola University, 2020) [1]

While there can be occasions where civil disobedience is warranted, the categories require extreme injustice to activate Christians toward civil disobedience. As Jesus also said, sometimes you have to give what is Caesar’s to Caesar, and give what is God’s to God (see Matthew 22:21).

Prayer

Almighty God, when faced with difficult decisions, I confess that I often react emotionally. I seek comfort in my own tribe of people, and they affirm my emotions. Yet, through the example of Jesus, I see a more excellent way to respond, especially when it comes to government officials and regulations with which I disagree. I see that Jesus is creative, resourceful, humorous, and compassionate in his response. Help me to do the same. I really don’t need to take myself or my opinions so seriously unless the circumstances are dire. Give me wisdom and discernment to not compromise my public witness. In your Holy Name I pray. Amen.

[1] https://www.biola.edu/…/civil-disobedience-in-an-age-of…

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