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Rendering to Caesar

At this time of year we again see the voting for the president of the United States of America.  We need to remember that no matter who becomes our next president, whether it is Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, we must show respect to that person.  In Mark 12:17 Christ dealt with the Pharisees who tried to tempt him in asking the question about paying tribute to the authorities. Jesus answered the Pharisees, “Render to Caesars the things that that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The purpose of the Pharisees in coming to Jesus was to “catch him in his words.”  The Pharisees came and twisted the meaning of Christ’s words saying, “Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth…”  The Pharisees knew that Christ regarded not what the laws of man said but rather what God, his Father, said in his law.

The Pharisees then asked another question to tempt Jesus, saying, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?  Shall we give, or shall we not give?”  In other words, if you don’t care about man’s laws, do we still have to pay tribute to Caesar?  Jesus answered the foolish question by asking for a penny (vs. 15).  He then asked whose subscription was on the coin (v. 16).  Jesus commanded and instructed both the Pharisees and his people to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”  Jesus gave wise instruction to a foolish question.

The question then arises, how does this apply to us?  In Romans 13:1–7 (which I recommend reading as well) God instructs us to “be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God:  for the powers that be are ordained of God.”  God uses these authorities to bear the sword power. They are a terror to those who do evil and are also ministers of God to us for good.  Verse 6 of Romans 13 says, “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.”  If we are commanded to pay more taxes, we must pay, because we must obey God who tells us to pay tribute to our rulers.

Included in paying tribute is the manner in which we speak about our leader.  Even though we may think that our leader is wicked, we must remember that God has given our leader the authority that he or she has.  We must speak well of our leader, as hard and difficult as that may be.  Even when we cannot obey because it goes against God’s law, we must still submit while still seeking to honor the leader God has placed over us.  Lord’s Day 39 states, “show all honor, love, and fidelity to my father and mother and all in authority over me and submit myself to their good instruction and correction with due obedience; and patiently bear with their weaknesses and infirmities, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.”

As we look towards the 2016 presidential election we must have no fear in anything, because the focus of history is Jesus Christ and his church.  God will use the coming leader for the good of his church.  He calls us to obey and submit to the coming president.  We must obey in all things that the government commands, except when we are commanded to do something against the will and law of God.  This is where the second part of the verse (Mark 12:17) applies, “and to God the things that are God’s”.   Even when we cannot obey, we are still called to submit.

We need to remember that the authority that is above us is ordained by God, and that authority is his instrument in the rearing of his church.  We must submit, and even be thankful that here in this country we can still serve our God faithfully and without fear.  So out of thanks we pay our taxes and render tribute, submitting to and obeying the authority willingly, because God has placed them over our heads for our safety and benefit.