True Riches:#3 “Render unto Caesar…”

True Riches:#3 “Render unto Caesar…”

Of all the things that little Jewish boys dreamed about, becoming ‘the most hated man in town,’ was not one of them. There Matthew sat at his tax booth, collecting taxes for the occupying Roman army from his fellow Jews. This was a man that any ‘righteous Jew’ would have more sense than to associate with.But Jesus was disinterested in the opinions of others when it came to what was in a man’s heart. He walked straight up to this ‘traitorous pariah’ and said, “Follow me” (Mt.1:3), and he did. Jesus then went to Matthew’s home for a party. There a Pharisee, incredulous at the sight, asked his disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” (Mt.9:11).Not much has changed in 2000 years. Taxes and sinners still occupy the same place of scorn in the eyes of the ‘righteous.’ Who doesn’t balk at the notion that Christians should have their minds on better things than where their taxes go?Many a great sermon has been preached on the showdown between Jesus and the duplicitous cronies of the Pharisees. They asked Jesus: “What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Mt.22:17).In their eyes, a ‘Yes’ meant he was a traitor to God, and a ‘No’ meant he was a traitor to Rome. Their goal was to discredit him in the eyes of all!For a good number of years modern scholars have been trying to sanitize the Pharisees. It’s a pity that they refuse to accept Jesus’ assessment of them as being hypocrites! Their attitudes towards money were godless. Jesus’ reply to the Tax Question is legendary: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt.22:21).The Tax element is incidental.It is a given that Kingdom people are to pay the ‘king’ of the earthly realm his taxes in his own currency.But now that that is out of the way: ‘Render to God the things that are God’s.’ A life filled with True Riches is one lived in service to him that is sovereign over all things—King Jesus! Matthew once lead in the business of “Rendering unto Caesar…,” but when he stood up and followed Jesus, he began to “Render to God the things that are God’s.”

John Staiger

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