Matthew 22:15-22 (Tribute to Caesar 8: The Long Reach of the 8th Commandment)

Recall again: What was Jesus’ answer to those who were seeking to ensnare Him with the question of whether or not it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar?  See Mat 22:21.  Upon what foundational principle of property rights was Jesus’ answer based?  Think: do not those who labor to provide what benefits another, whether directly or indirectly, have the right to be remunerated with what lawfully belongs to them?  Considering the self-evident nature of this truth that delivered Him from their snare, how foundational is this principle not only to God’s law but to the common sensibilities and any just rule among men?  Here Jesus applies this principle to governments; what does Scripture say about it also applying to individuals?  See Deut 24:14-15, 25:4, 1Co 9:9-10.  What does this teach us about how antithetical communism and socialism are to the foundational truths of Scripture?  Cf. Act 5:4 and think: Although governments are entrusted with coercive power, is it any more lawful for them to take from their subjects more than their due and deprive them of what is rightfully theirs, than it is for anyone who is stronger to steal from those who are weaker?  Cf. Luk 3:12-14.

Besides the government, to whom in particular does Scripture emphasize that the underlying principle of property rights and the right to remuneration applies?  See 1Co 9:11,14, 1Ti 5:17-18; cf. Deut 12:19, 14:27-29.  In what way are spiritual workers like governments in the services they provide that warrant a repeated Scriptural reminder of their rights for remuneration?  Think: are the benefits of their services as immediately observable as a short-term exchange for food or cell-phone service?  How many people would never think of taking a loaf of bread without paying for it, are careful to pay their cell phone bill each month, and rarely miss a payment for what they owe on a house or car, but would put off paying their taxes indefinitely if they could, and don’t even consider the care of their immortal souls as a service rendered, let alone one to be recompensed?  And yet in order of importance, which of these—cell phone, car, house, the government, and God’s ministers—are the most important for their long term benefit and well-being?

How does God see it when we neglect that which is most important to our souls, and by implication, when we fail to render to the government its rightful due?  See Mal 3:8-12.  What is Paul’s guidance to guard against this?  See 1Co 16:1-2.  In what way is this wisdom a part of the United States tax code?  In what way should it also be reflected in our charitable giving and support of God’s ministers?  Although likely unnoticed in the short term, what are the long-term consequences if government services are taken for granted and people shirk their responsibility to pay their taxes that support those services?  What are the similar consequences if people shirk their responsibilities to support their spiritual workers?  Cf. Jdg 17:6-13.  On the other hand, what are the consequences if government leaders abuse their position of power to enrich themselves at the expense of others, or religious leaders out of greed come to exploit people for the sake of dishonest gain?  What does this teach us about the long reach of the 8th commandment (thou shalt not steal), and the importance of true heart faithfulness on the part of every person in any group of people, society or nation if it is to thrive and prosper?

What was the two-fold response to Jesus’ answer of those who were seeking to ensnare Him?  See Mat 22:22.  Instead of being amazed but then going away, what ought their amazement have led them to do?  How did their response contrast with others who marveled at Jesus’ words and miracles?  Cf. Mat 9:8,33-34, 15:31; see also Luk 6:7,10-11, Joh 11:47-48, Act 4:16-17.  In what way are many today like them who marvel at Jesus’ teaching and have nothing to respond, but rather than submit themselves to His wisdom they just go away and even seek to destroy Him?  Cf. Psa 2:1-4.  What was it about the religious leaders that provoked such a different response to Jesus’ wisdom and miracles than that of the masses?  Cf. Mat 27:18.  Had their leadership of the Jews been based on serving others after the manner of Jesus instead of on self-glory after the manner of the world, might their response have been different?  What does this teach us about the importance of leaders having a servant’s heart if their leadership is to have a positive eternal outcome, and the great danger to their souls if they do not?

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