Render To Caesar

And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s,” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Matthew 22:20-22 ESV

Today is one of America’s least favorite days: income taxes are due.

But taxes are nothing new—the pesky dues have been around for millennia.

In today’s verse, the Pharisees were out to get Jesus, attempting to “entangle him in his talk” (Matthew 22:15). And they decided to use the subject of taxes to trip him up.

The Pharisees sent their disciples to Jesus with a controversial question, hoping to provoke a response that’d get Jesus stuck.

Their lackeys approached Jesus and prefaced their question with flattery to deceive him, and then asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

Matthew records that, “Jesus, aware of their malice” (Matthew 22:18) asked the hypocrites why they put him to the test. And then, he blew them away with an answer that encompasses all of life.

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You Go Before Me

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!”

Psalm 139:5-6

It seems like everyone this time of year is talking about their goals for the new year. Often I hear things like: eat healthy, work out, save more money, etc.

What if we were less focused on our outward appearance and possessions and more focused on our relationship with God and how God wants us to love others?

If our goals looked more like: more love, more peace, more patience, more gentleness, more kindness and more self control.

Don’t get me wrong here, take care of that body of yours. Eat healthy, get moving and know where your money is going. But take heart that those things are not the things that define us. Let us be aware of what and who we are putting first in our life and in our hearts.

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The Vigilant Refiner

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the LORD tests hearts.

Proverbs 17:3 ESV

My friend Jacob dons goggles and fireproof gloves. Then, with a smile, he sparks his blowtorch to life.

He touches the stream of fire to a bar of silver in a crucible, and explains what’s happening over the hiss of the torch.

“Different metals purify at different temperatures,” he says. “And you need to be careful to get the temperature just right, so that you don’t lose any of the precious metal you’re refining. Otherwise, you’ll burn it too much and it all turns to dust.”

I can see the dross curling to the surface, forming an ugly crust.

Dross is the concentration of the impurities that were once within the metal—but now they are being separated by the perfect application of heat.

The vigilance required is impressive, watching the refiner dance with molten metal and flame, carefully applying the fire and then pulling it away. Applying the fire, pulling it away. All the while, the dross is separated from the silver that holds the real value.

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