“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. 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 22:15-22 ESV)
Pray for Caesar
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
It’s easier to pray for politicians you like. Those seem harder to find these days. What should we do? Pray for them. Pray for President Obama. Pray for our other leaders.
But what kind of prayer? I think many people miss the rest of the verse, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.” What is the connection between our prayers and our peaceful lives? The content of our prayers and the policy choices of our leaders. I take this to mean we pray that they would have wisdom. We pray they would govern by policies that allow gospel ministry to freely take place. We pray they would afford us freedoms of worship and evangelism. We pray they would govern toward these things. We pray that they would render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.
Caesar must see himself as a little king under the authority of the King of kings. From there flows ethical government and social justice and loving our neighbors as ourselves. When government renders to God, it receives the natural blessings God built into his purpose for human government.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) Here is my final exhortation: if we are called to pray in that direction, shouldn’t we also vote in that direction?
That is next week. How should Christians involve themselves in the political process and what should be the effect? Do we isolate ourselves? Do we vote? Do we serve in government? Those are thornier questions. Here are the safe ones. Christian, render to Caesar, submit to Caesar, and pray for Caesar.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2016 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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