BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said,“Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Matthew 22:16-18
I can tell that I am in a political campaign mode, because passages of scripture like this one get my attention due to the “political” tension that is part of the story.
The preface to the question of the religious leaders is, “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.” (Matthew 22:15 ESV)
The political tactics of our day, can be seen in the Pharisees of old. The Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus, but they approached him pretending to be sincere, but they were sincerely insincere. Jesus identifies their attitude as hypocrisy. He knew the flattery was just a “set up” to trick Him and to have a reason to accuse him.
Back in 2010 a devious young reporter from a small local newspaper took a page out of the Pharisee playbook. He called not just me, but a staffer at our Teen Challenge men’s program and acted like he was sincerely interest in the work of our organization. We found out he was “setting us” up to make an unfounded accusation to get himself some points with his editor and to try to disparage me and my campaign at the time. It is interesting that his “fake news” story resurfaced during my current City Council campaign.
Perhaps I needed to learn the lesson of, pause and ask the Lord for insight to know when hypocrisy is the order of the day and not sincere inquiry.
Jesus knowing the hearts of the Pharisee’s disciples, ended up putting them to the test. He asks for a coin. He asks them whose inscription is on the coin. When they reply Caesar, He gives the well know pronouncement, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)
That challenges us to be sincere in our dedication to the Lord. We need to do more than articulate words of commitment, we need to reflect our commitment through out lives. Do we understand that the image of God is imprinted on our hearts as much as an image is imprinted on a coin?
Our lives can be viewed as the “currency” that reveals our priorities because of where we invest ourselves. Jesus, reminded the Pharisees of the words of Isaiah, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8 NIV)
May we not be found to be sincerely, insincere when it comes to Christ’s lordship in our life.
Prayer for today…. Lord, help us to say what we mean and mean what we say. Give us insight and understanding of our lives carrying Your imprint on us as a mark of ownership. Allow us to “spend” and “invest” our lives on that which will bring dividends in eternity.