Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Easiest Way To Deal With People Who Butt In Lines: Off With Their Heads!

We are big time into our rights as citizens of our city, province and country. We realize that we have certain obligations as citizens, to contribute by being productive and paying taxes to cover the services that are provided. So because we pay taxes we also expect, even demand that our rights would be honoured. I have met a lot of Christians who have also demanded these rights. I am not saying they shouldn't but there is a certain character that we are suppose to have as followers of Jesus Christ. There is also a very important point about the character of Jesus and his disciples that many of us seem to keep missing.

At the end of Matthew 17 we are told that the temple tax collectors approached Peter to collect the temple tax. Jesus asked Peter:

“What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered. (Matthew 17:25-26)

Now most people concentrate on what Jesus said about the fish and the coins because, I think, most of us do not want to deal with this part of it:

 “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” (Matthew 17:26-27)

"But so that we may not cause offense", Jesus said. "The children are exempt", Jesus said. "So that we may not cause offense", Jesus said. Yes, I am repeating myself to force it to sink into my heart. Jesus was teaching his disciples the principle by which he was living:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
   taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
  (Philippians 2:5-7) 

Jesus gave up all his rights and privileges for us and we are expected to do the same to benefit other people. Is is part of our new character, as the children of the living God. "The children are exempt" but we do not use our rights and privileges to offend and enslave the very people Jesus died for or those people who are living with a lesser revelation who do not yet understand their freedom. Remember Paul's case about the meat sacrificed to idols. Paul said it was not a big deal to eat this meat because the idols had no value so had not affect on the meat. However, if it would offend someone who had not yet come to this revelation of freedom, or even cause them to fall into sin of the conscience, it is better not to exert your rights. Leave the meat alone. Paul went as far to say:

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.  (1 Corinthians 8:13) 

Even though we as children are exempt and we have privileges and rights it does not mean that we lift such things above the two greatest laws; loving God with our entire being and loving our neighbour as ourself. Those supersede everything else because it is a law of the heart. We show love by denying ourselves our rights so we do not offend and we do not cause others to fall into sin of the conscience. We need to remember the instructions we have been given:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  (Philippians 2:3-4) 

However, it must be more than instruction to us; it must become a matter of the heart. To love others as ourself is of utmost priority because then we know we are indeed being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. If it was a priority of Jesus to deny himself for the sake of others, I would think we too, his disciples, would make it our great desire. We cannot meet the aggression of this world with more aggression. Such things must be faced with the greatest form of love; the laying down of our lives for others. 

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