Sermons

Summary: Honoring God and Honoring Government

On My Honor, I Will Do My Best

Matthew 22: 15-22

On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. – Boy Scouts of America OATH.

Sixty some odd years ago, I memorized the Boy Scout Oath as part of my journey in scouting. As you read over the oath, what stands out the most to you? How about that little phrase in there that says, “I will do my best”? And then does it say anything about convenience; about personal bias or prejudice; about any ifs ands or buts? NO, it says “at all times”.

In this reading, the Pharisees are at it again, trying to corner Jesus into saying something in conflict with Scripture or with the ruling governmental authority which at that time was the Roman government. The Pharisees sent a delegation of Herodians to question Jesus. The trick question was, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

Before we move on, who were the Herodians? Scholars remain divided even today as being absolute in identifying just exactly who they were. As best that I can determine, they were a sect of Hellenistic Jews, loyal to Herod the Great and not friendly to Jesus. If biblical scholars are not in agreement as to exactly who they were, we are not going to get ensnared in a lot of assumptions and suppositions.

We often hear that it’s not a good idea to mix politics and religion. Well, here you have it. Sometimes we simply cannot avoid it.

This delegation approached Jesus and asked him right out, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” The trap was set. If Jesus. If Jesus spoke against the tax, he could be inviting trouble from the Romans. If he voiced approval of the taxes, he would be inviting trouble with the Jews. A no-win situation? For you and me maybe but not for Jesus. The omniscient one saw right through their scheme from the outset. What if Jesus decided to brush them off and not give them the satisfaction of even acknowledging them much less dignifying their question with an answer? The problem with that is it may give rise to doubt his authority to the crowds that had gathered and witnessed this confrontation. So, Jesus asks for a Roman coin (the common monetary unit of the day). Upon that coin was the image of Caesar, an indication that all Roman money belonged to Caesar. Jesus simply stated, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s”.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1

Funny thing here: there is no mention as to whether you agree with the governing authority or not.

“Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17

What do we garner from Scripture? If we honor and worship God, we must honor our country.

I am as aware as anyone that there are social justice issues that cry out for a righteous indignation, righteous anger and need for change. It is the manner that we as Christians approach these issues that shall be judged as to whether they are godly responses or not. I shall not make specific recommendations as to what I think are appropriate responses to injustice but I will say that violence (to any degree) is not one; castigating any group for the actions of a few within that group is wrong – whether it is a race of people, ethnicity of people, social standing of people, or the like.

There are GOOD pastors and there are BAD pastors, there are GOOD police officers and there are bad police officers, there are GOOD neighbors and there are bad neighbors, doctors, lawyers, judges and YES POLITICIANS. We cannot judge all by the actions of a few.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ...” Matthew 7:1-3

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