Paying Taxes

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us."

Matthew 17:27

In the time of Jesus, Jewish men throughout the world showed their allegiance to the temple in Jerusalem and helped to support its work by paying a temple tax of about two days' wages. The tax collectors wondered if Jesus was going to pay the tax, perhaps because they were aware of his critique of the temple, or maybe because they knew he had no steady source of income.

Jesus agreed to pay the tax, not out of some obligation, but in order not to offend his fellow Jews unnecessarily. (Surely he had offended them plenty in matters of the kingdom of God.) As children of God, Jesus and his followers did not have to pay a tax to their Heavenly Father, but they chose to do so in order to foster good relationships with other Jews. Of course, it was easier to pay the tax when it came miraculously from the mouth of a fish!

Sometimes Christians are needlessly offensive in their desire to honor God. In their effort to be faithful in the workplace, for example, they talk so much about their faith that they turn off their colleagues. The example of Jesus and the temple tax reminds us that we need to be both faithful to the Lord and respectful to those around us. Though sometimes we cannot help but offend people with our beliefs, we should never do it needlessly. There is no point erecting barriers so that others are kept away from the Lord.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: In your zeal to serve the Lord, have you ever offended others? What happened? Have you ever seen a Christian trying to live as a faithful disciple but causing unnecessary offense?

PRAYER: Lord, I'm sure there have been times when I have offended people unnecessarily, thus keeping them away from your saving grace. Forgive me!

Please give me wisdom to know when giving offense is a necessary result of faithfulness, and when it is a result of my own foolishness. Help me to live in this world, faithful to you in all things, but sensitive to others. May I be, like Paul, all things to all people.* But, first and foremost, may I be faithful and loyal to you. Amen.

*1 Cor. 9:22-23; 10:31-33