Pentecost 22 – Tuesday Devotion

Readings:  Jeremiah 3:6-4:2 and Matthew 22:1-22

Jeremiah 3: 22:  “Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.”

Matthew 22:21:  Then [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

 

“Giving to God the Things that Are God’s”

During the penitential season of Lent, we set aside the Verse which usually includes the “Alleluia”. Instead the words used in preparation for the reading of the Gospel are:  “Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love”  (Joel 2:13). The call to repentance and faith has been repeated since those days of Joel.  He was the same prophet who foretold of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

People who wanted to start a division approached Jesus.  They wanted to trap Him in His words, just as the press today tries to get a candidate running for office to contradict himself or herself and therefore cause division among the people. Today in the United States, people are rendering the things due ‘Caesar’ by casting their ballots to elect people whom they believe will serve best in our government.  

“Show Me the coin.”  Simple request so they show Jesus a coin, and Caesar’s image is on that coin.  Typical of Romans to do that; emperor worship was always the ‘thing’ to do in those days, and for this purpose, Jesus uses it to teach an important lesson.  “Give to Caesar the things that are due for Caesar, and give to God the things that are due for God.”  Case closed.  Class dismissed.  

So what things does God rightfully claim?  All things.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” Psalm 24:1 tells us.  Case closed.  All things are God’s but He gives man the opportunity to manage those things for His good will and purpose.  We claim nothing as our own.  There is no possessive form for nouns in the Hebrew or Greek languages in which the Scriptures are written. Class dismissed.  

But God allows man to use those gifts.  What things does Caesar rightfully claim?  Only those things which God enables the government to use that will serve His purpose.   The Apostle Paul explains how we rightfully owe a righteous government what is expected:  “Then do what is good, and you will receive [the authority’s] approval, for [this authority] is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for [the government] does not bear the sword in vain, for he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.  Pay to all what is owed to them:  taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:3-7).

So what do we truly owe God?  The people who attempted to trap Jesus failed to learn that lesson.  Jeremiah had that lesson announced in his day some 600 years before the time of Jesus.  “Return, O faithless sons; God will heal your faithlessness.”  The only thing we bring to God is our sins; in exchange God gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation in Christ!  Through His Word He gives us faith.  At His font He grants sonship in His kingdom.  At His table He feeds us with food eternal.  That’s what God gives to us, the faithless ones who try to trap Jesus in His words.

“What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?” These words in response to God’s message of Word and Preaching lead us to answer with the Words God gives us:  “I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12-13).  That’s what we render—give—to God which are the true things of God.  True Christian Stewardship begins with thanksgiving to God for what He has given us, including our government as His servant.

 

Let us pray:  Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You for all the blessings You give us, including the material blessings we use each day.  We also thank You for our government and the opportunity to give to our government what we owe by Your divine ordinance.  Protect us from the fear of our enemies who would threaten our freedoms and liberties.  May those elected to serve, serve You with noble trust and integrity.  Grant us the spirit of repentance and faith to turn to You for full and free forgiveness in Jesus Christ in whom we  pray.  Amen.

Our Father…

The grace of the Lord + Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.  Amen.