October 18

Matthew 22:18-22

“They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” vs. 21

Initially it must have looked to the Pharisees and Herodians as though Jesus had wiggled out of their trap with an inoffensive and innocuous response. And we’re inclined to agree. But it’s the kind of answer that starts gnawing at us if we think long enough–and soon we’re asking questions ourselves. Just what does belong to the emperor? And what really belongs to God? And then it hits us, “Wait a minute, everything belongs to God! And if everything belongs to God what remains for the emperor? And more importantly, what remains for us?” Followers of Jesus have wrestled with this problem for centuries. We’ve been molded by capitalist thinking to believe that all of our stuff belongs to us–we earned it and it’s ours. Admittedly the emperor tries to take it away from us, but a good tax lawyer or financial advisor can limit our losses, and most of us still have more than we need. But if Jesus is right and it all belongs to God, is all that excess really ours to keep? Maybe we’re only stewards and not owners–and maybe it would be better if we shared it with those who have never landed on Park Place or Broadway in the game of life! Instead of hanging to our stuff for dear life, maybe we’d be more joyful if we became generous givers–kind of like God is!

Thought for the Day: What keeps me from giving away my stuff?

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