Saturday, January 02, 2010

Eternal revenue

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22:17-22 NIV

[The Pharisees asked Jesus this question:] 17 “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought Him a denarius, 20 and He asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then [Jesus] said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 22 When [the Pharisees] heard this, they were amazed. So they left Him and went away.

Good morning!

Last week, Jeff and I embarked on a whirlwind, seven day road trip. We drove 2,343 American miles! Because this was the last full week in 2009, we wanted an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful country which we have been blessed to live in. We drove through the mountains, walked along sandy shores and dipped our feet into chilly ocean waters. We experienced two very different theme parks: one, a famous, world-renown vacation spot and the other, a journey through time, remembering the real reason for our Christmas journey and long-anticipated celebration.

We quickly discovered that this trip was going to cost us simply to get there. Within an hour’s reach of our final destination, we began to pay toll road charges every five miles or so. The roads were obviously under construction and very difficult to drive on. This is not what I would describe as the “scenic route.” We were paying the state simply for the privilege of driving within the vicinity of a popular, man-made tourist trap. The revenue generated by the state supposedly would fund its highway improvement programs. I couldn’t help but wonder just how long the construction along this particular toll road would take before the improvements might actually be completed…

At year’s end, we begin to count the cost of citizenship. Depending upon where you live, you may be required to pay personal property taxes. American families begin to shift their focus after the first of the year, itemizing expenses and gathering funds to pay annual state and federal income taxes due in the spring. It was not so different when Jesus walked along the Jerusalem roads. The Roman government required the Jews living in and near the city to pay taxes, which funds supported Caesar’s treasury. A denarius was a day’s wage for the average laborer. It could have been used to purchase grain for bread to feed the hungry; yet, it was used to pay for pagan worship rituals and help pad the pockets of the indulgent lifestyles of the rich and famous in Rome. The image of Caesar was boldly imprinted onto every coin. There was no question to whom the coins belonged. This was a very steep price to pay just for the privilege of living.

Jesus surprised the Pharisees when he answered their trick question. Jesus quickly pointed out that, as citizens of the world, we have an obligation to pay for the services and benefits we receive from our government, our states, and our cities. We must never forget, however, that our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, while free to each and every heart, comes at a great cost. Jesus Christ gave Himself up as the perfect sacrifice, purchasing our sins on the cross. He died and rose again so that we could experience everlasting relationship with our heavenly Father, the creator of all. When we willingly give our hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, He requires a daily commitment and obedience to His Word.

Are you counting the cost of eternal revenue? What will you bring to honor to honor our Savior and Lord as a full citizen in the kingdom of heaven? For all that we have freely received, we must be willing to freely give all that we have. May this New Year be doubly blessed as you find great joy in paying your eternal revenue to the Lord.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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