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Politics, Taxes and Government
The testing of Christ over the poll tax,
from the gospel of Mark 12:13 to 17
Politics are fun to talk about. Recently in New Orleans, Hillary Clinton said she still doesn’t know if she’s running for President in 2016. Isn’t that unbelievable? There are 315 million Americans–what are the odds she’s the only one in the country who doesn’t know she’s running for president in 2016? President Obama’s approval rating in the U.S. is at its lowest point ever–41 percent. After hearing this, the President said, “How did I become less popular in this country than soccer?”
Politics has always been a hot button, creating controversy and heated reaction. And that was true even in the time of Christ. Open your Bibles to Mark 12:13 to 17. In the midst of His enemies trying to force Christ to say something publicly in order to get the population to turn against Him, these hypocrites attempt to trap Christ using politics, taxes and government.
Stand and read with me the next verses in our study of the gospel of Mark, verses 13 to 17. Here as God’s Word exposes the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, we also clearly see the amazing wisdom of Christ as He utters the most profound political statement ever uttered. Read starting in verse 13.
“Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?’ But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, ‘Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.’ 16 They brought one. And He said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ And they said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.”
There is a history behind this shrewd question–a bitter history. Herod the Great ruled all Palestine as a Roman tributary king. He’d been loyal to the Romans–they respected him, and this had given him a great deal of freedom. When he died in 4 BC, he divided his kingdom into three. To Herod Antipas, he gave Galilee and Peraea. To Herod Philip, he gave the wild district up in the northeast. To Archelaus, he gave the south country including Judea and Samaria.
Antipas and Philip ruled wisely and well. But Archelaus was a complete failure. The result was in AD 6, the Romans had to step in and introduce direct rule. Things were so unsatisfactory that southern Palestine could no longer be left as a semi-independent tributary kingdom of Rome. It had to become a province governed by a procurator. All Roman provinces fell into two classes. Those which were peaceful and required no troops were governed by the senate and ruled by proconsuls. But the trouble centers which required troops were under the direct sphere of the Emperor, and were governed by procurators.
Southern Palestine fell into this second category, being a troubled region, which also meant their taxes were paid directly to the Emperor. The first act of the new governor of Judah, named Cyrenius, was to take a census of that region in order to prepare for fair taxation and general administration. The calmer portion of the populous accepted this action as an inevitable necessity.
But one man named Judas the Gaulonite raised violent opposition. He thundered that “taxation was no better than slavery.” He called on the people to rise up, and declared to all that God would favor them only if they stood up to the Romans and violently opposed them. He took the high ground, telling his countrymen that for all true Jews, only God could be their ruler.
The Romans dealt with Judas with their customary efficiency, but his battle cry never died out. His call to rebellion was still in the people’s thinking. Their desire to be ruled directly by God and not by Romans was still their dream, and they resented paying taxes to an emperor who himself claimed to be God, and made them pay taxes with coins that declared the emperor God. “No tribute to the Romans,” remained the rallying cry of the more fanatical Jewish patriots. “Do not pay your taxes–don’t give the oppressive government of Rome anything.” Regardless, the Jews were called upon to pay three different kinds of taxes.
1) A ground tax, which consisted of one-tenth of all the grain, and one-fifth of the wine and fruit produced
2) An income tax, which amounted to 1% of a man’s income
3) And then, a poll tax, which is the focus here
The poll tax was levied once a year on all men from 14 to 65 and all women from 12 to 65. This tax was one denarius–equivalent to one day of wages for the average laborer. It was the tax which everyone had to pay simply for the privilege of existing. And in the case of the Judeans, it was paid directly to Caesar.
It was this political situation which created an opportunity for the hateful religious leaders to trap Christ into declaring something which would cause the population to reject Him. But once again, the brilliance of God’s wisdom will shine through, not only avoiding their trap, but teaching us how we are to view politics, taxes and government.
How did our Lord respond to the political issues of His day? MacArthur, in his book Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong, said, “He did not call upon angelic armies to bring down oppressive governments or attempt to establish a new political order. He did not set up any kind of political administration, nor did He organize public protests against Rome. His ministry was not focused on those things, but instead was ever aimed at the hearts of individual sinners who were in desperate need of God’s grace.
“Jesus did not lead civil rights demonstrations. Rather, He preached the good news of forgiveness and salvation. The Lord did not launch a new political order, but a spiritual one–namely, the church. And ALL Christians have been called to follow His lead.”
So how can believers balance the priority of God’s Kingdom with the desire to be good citizens on earth? Let’s draw out what Jesus says in Mark 12. Beginning from 11:27 to 12:44, there are seven paragraphs, seven attacks, seven separate conflicts coming from the Sanhedrin–the spiritual government of Israel made up of groups of religious leaders. In each account, someone from the Sanhedrin poses a question in order to get Jesus to disqualify Himself in the eyes of the population.
It’s Wednesday, and this opposition is moving our Lord toward the cross. Mark is showing one by one that each and every religious group making up the Sanhedrin is out to destroy Christ. As the Lord answers this early attack, His response is not only astounding the instant it is uttered, but is even today universally acclaimed to be the single most influential political statement ever made in the history of the world. Two groups come after Christ in these verses, showing us . . .
#1 The POLITICS–Hatred for Christ made strange bedfellows Verse 13
“Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement.” The “they” in the context is the Sanhedrin–so the Sanhedrin sent a few Pharisees and Herodians. Whoa?! These leaders were hand selected to do their evil work. Matthew 22:16 tells us, “They sent their disciples to Him.” Luke says in 20:20, they “sent spies who pretended to be righteous.”
Right off, we know they’re up to no good. This is evil. From Matthew, we know the Sanhedrin sent their disciples, meaning their trainees, the ones Jesus doesn’t know. Putting young men before Christ who He doesn’t recognize, and who sound teachable and sincere, is meant to lull Christ into being unguarded with His answers. But it’s all a sham–Luke says they are spies pretending to be godly men sent on a mission to get Christ to say something so the Sanhedrin can accuse, then kill Christ.
These young men are accomplices to murder. They are guilty of conspiracy with the intent to commit murder. Their intent is to kill an innocent man, who just happens to be their Creator. Who sent them? This is shocking–verse13 says the Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees and Herodians were two sects that co-existed in the land of Israel with an uneasy kind of relationship.
The Pharisees were the most religious, the Herodians the least religious
The Pharisees were most concerned with the Law of God, the Herodians were most concerned with the Law of Rome
The Pharisees were most devoted to Israel, the Herodians were most devoted to Caesar
The Pharisees were intensely religious, the Herodians were intensely political
The Pharisees hated the Herodians, they had sold their soul to Rome
But, the Pharisees saw the Herodians as useful to them. The Pharisees wanted to get rid of Jesus because of His theology. But that was not enough for the Romans to put Christ to death. The Roman authorities weren’t going to kill Jesus for His theology. The only way the Romans would kill Jesus was for His political views. Thus the Herodians need to be complicit in this situation.
The goal of the Sanhedrin is to put Jesus in a position where He makes a political statement the Romans will read as open rebellion–that’s the plan. And if Jesus came off as being anti-Roman, anti-Caesar and a threat to the peace of Israel under Roman rule, the Herodians would make a beeline to the Romans and report Jesus, so that the Romans would have to arrest Christ and deal with Him.
Now the Roman governor over Judea is Pontius Pilate. He is present in Jerusalem at this very moment. Herod Antipas, proconsul from the north, is also in Jerusalem at this time for the Passover. So it’s not going to take long to get word to them once it’s established that Jesus is a threat to Rome.
Now the Romans already know Jesus has a massive following. That was displayed on Monday when hundreds of thousands of people gathered around Him as He came into the city and hailed Him as the Messiah, their King. They’re also aware Christ entered the Temple on Tuesday, and cleaned it out, putting His power and popularity on display. So the Romans know Jesus is a potential problem, especially with this kind of massive following.
So the Sanhedrin decides, “all we have to do is show Rome that Jesus is a threat, get Him arrested and Rome will kill Him.” And once Rome arrests Jesus, the Jews will abandon Him because they believe the Messiah must overthrow Rome. But if the Romans arrest Jesus, then Jesus can’t be the Messiah. That’s the plan–get Jesus arrested. The crowds will desert Him, and the Romans will then execute Him.
So now the Pharisees are hoping to get those Roman-loving Herodians to fink on Jesus and get Him arrested. But they need to get Christ to say something against Rome. Look at the end of verse 13, “in order to trap Him in a statement”–literally, to catch Him in His words. The sinister motive behind their question is exposed here.
The Greek word “catch” paints the picture of catching wild animals with a net or snare. These young men were the hunters, out to snare Jesus, literally “with a word.” Just carefully make Christ make any anti-Roman statement so the Herodians can run to Pilate or Herod and get Him arrested. Politics can make for strange bedfellows–here are two opposing groups now working together to kill Christ.
This is what hypocrites do. They make awkward alliances against the truth. You will see this in your organizations–the enemy gets opposing groups to work together against the truth of God’s Word, the person of Christ and the Gospel of salvation. This is a purposeful entrapment, political hatred (sending their young men to trip Christ into incriminating Himself). They do it by first . . .
#2 The PLAY–Hypocritical manipulative talk will get you nowhere Verse 14
“They came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.” This is all sick, manipulative, backstabbing talk. They smile at your face, all the time they want to take your place—the backstabbers. These men are speaking the truth to Christ, but they are doing so with evil, murderous intentions.
Can you see their teachable faces? Can you hear their respectful tone? But behind their back, they’re holding a knife, ready to stab Christ to death. They are there to murder Christ. They’re guilty of conspiracy with the intent to commit murder. This is all pretense. They’re going to try to butter Him up, like baiting the hook to catch Him, then cook Him.
As you pick apart what they say, not only will you see their hateful hypocrisy, but you will also see the incredible character of Jesus Christ. They start with . . .
TEACHER They were presenting their question to Him as an acknowledged Rabbi. It’s because of His uprightness of character and forthrightness in answering difficult questions that they were coming to Him. They’ve cunningly prepared this preamble, not only to disarm suspicion, but also to keep Christ from giving an answer that will defeat their purpose. Next . . .
WE KNOW THAT YOU ARE TRUTHFUL “We know” is intended to appear like an honest testimony of their appreciation for His character. They recognized Christ was true–wholly honest and transparent. This hypocritical testimony is an unintentional confession of the profound impression the Lord’s integrity had made on His enemies. They are speaking the truth about Christ, but their motive is as false as it could be. Next . . .
AND DEFER TO NO ONE Christ was not indifferent to people, but independent of their pressure. Christ did not act simply to please people. In answering their question about taxes, they want Christ to answer without fear of the Romans or the listening crowd. They expect Christ to give a forthright answer. Next . . .
FOR YOU ARE NOT PARTIAL TO ANY The Greek here is literally you don’t not look into the face of men, which comes from a Hebrew idiom, meaning Christ does not pay attention to the outward appearance of men to be influenced by their position, wealth, or power. They knew Christ will be impartial in His answer, showing no favoritism. Next . . .
BUT TEACH THE WAY OF GOD IN TRUTH Moving from Christ’s character to the truthfulness of His teaching, they recognized Jesus faithfully taught people the way of God from the Word of God. The Greek phrase “in truth” is emphasized by its position, and stresses that the Lord’s teaching was based upon the truth.
Hypocrites falsely pursue the truth–they speak like they want to know truth and follow truth, but it’s all deception. Yet what Christ teaches is the way of God and the very opposite of the way of falsehood. In answering their question, they were certain He’d give them a true answer. They thought their honeyed words were enough to throw Jesus off guard. Hypocrites will say anything to win their case or get what they want.
Truth isn’t the issue. Law isn’t the issue. Integrity isn’t a factor, but getting what they want is the passion of all hypocrites. But this is Jesus Christ, friends–this is God in the flesh, with all knowledge, all wisdom, all discernment and all power. They’re not going to trick the Son of God, but they will try to entrap Jesus anyway by using the hot political issue of their day. What is it?
#3 The POLL TAX–Using a political hot button as a trap Verses 14b to 15a
Verse 14b, “Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”
Verse 15, “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”
This was the most explosive question of the day. But the single answer Jesus gives defuses the bomb. All of Rome’s citizens, including Israel, were heavily taxed. To some in Israel, the poll tax was an economic burden. For others, the poll tax was blasphemous. It is a hot topic. Jesus’ enemies were confident they had Him this time.
Using the poll tax is a masterpiece of cunning. If the Lord answered that it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, his own people, the Jews, will brand Him as a traitor and abandon Him in disgust (then the Pharisees could arrest Christ). But if Jesus answered that no taxes should be paid to Caesar, the Herodians could report to the Romans that Jesus was an insurrectionist to have Him killed.
They seemingly have Jesus trapped. They must have thought they had Christ impaled on the horns of an inescapable dilemma. “Yes or no, Jesus?” And to seal the deal, they ask in verse 15, “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?”–yes or no, Jesus? They must be smiling inside, because they know that either answer can be used effectively against Christ, in order to get Him in trouble with the people or the authorities.
Now Jesus has only two choices, and with either answer He’ll politically cave into the Herodians, or theologically bury Himself to the Pharisees. But they’ve already tipped their hand. Mark has let us know that the religious leaders are already after Christ in 11:18, “chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him.” Then in 12:12, “they were seeking to seize Him.”
The hunt is on, and the hounds have been released. Has anyone ever tried to kill you? Has anyone ever talked to you in order to trap you so you’ll get into trouble? This is massively tense–but this is Christ, God in a body.
#4 The PERCEPTION—Christ knows the heart Verse 15b
“But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, ‘Why are you testing Me?’” Knowing their hypocrisy–it means Jesus already knew they were literally wearing a mask. They were trying to conceal their sinful intentions. Their cleverly chosen words did not deceive Jesus for a moment. Luke 20:20, “So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.”
Matthew, Mark and Luke employ different terms to indicate just how the Lord read their hypocrisy. Matthew 22:18 says, Jesus “perceived their wickedness” or maliciousness, while Luke 20:23 says Jesus recognized “their craftiness or trickery.” Jesus saw their readiness to stoop to any deception to trap Him.
Verse 15, the Greek word “hypocrisy” stresses they sought to conceal their sinister purpose under the pretense of being honest inquirers. So the all-knowing Savior exposes their evil plot. He justly “pants them” all in front of everyone, and says, verse 15, “Why are you testing Me?”–I know exactly what you’re doing! Instead of being honest inquirers, you are all intentional liars. You are testing Me for malicious purposes.
I love this–they just told Jesus He always spoke the truth, so Jesus immediately confirms that was true by revealing the truth about them. His question not only exposes them, but also seeks to appeal to their conscience so that they might hear the truth. The Lord wants to reach His enemies.
Don’t play politics with people, tell them the truth. Say what you mean. Don’t hint, don’t assume, but speak plainly. Proverbs 27:5, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.” But what is the Lord going to do? He is trapped. No, the all-wise sovereign Lord of all is never trapped–look at His . . .
#5 The PROCEDURE–The profound wisdom of Christ Verses 15c to 17a
“’Bring Me a denarius to look at.’ 16 They brought one. And He said to them, ‘“Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ And they said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” What does Jesus do? Our Lord says, “Bring me a denarius.”
It’s a small silver coin that weighed 3.9 grams, making it the average day’s wage in Palestine. “’Whose likeness and inscription is this?’” On this coin was Caesar’s likeness, and an inscription that said, “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of Divine Augustus.” Caesar was considered a semi-divine being! On the reverse of this coin, it had a female figure seated on a throne wearing a crown and holding an inverted spear in her right hand and a palm or olive branch in her left. The superscription read, “High Priest”. The woman was either a priestess, or Livia, the wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberias.
The poll tax was basically a portable idol, propagating Roman pagan political ideals. It was an imperial tax levied against the Jews in 6 A.D., which would eventually lead to a Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 A.D. Someone had to get this coin. 16 “They brought one.” Jesus didn’t have one, nor did the hypocrites–so they were all waiting in eager anticipation . . . wait for it, to see what Jesus was going to say.
Jesus will tell them and us, God and government are not incompatible. God and Caesar were not discordant. Jesus lets us know there is no conflict here. It is not either or, but both and. How profound was this position by our Lord? In one swift moment, 1) Jesus exposes their pretense of hypocrisy, 2) evades their ambush, 3) dismantles their trap, and then 4) dispenses the truth.
Two profound statements are made, showing us the two profound responsibilities given to every Christian—
First Our EARTHLY Allegiance–Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s
If you do Caesar’s business, with Caesar’s money, then pay Caesar’s taxes. Jesus establishes the rights and duties of government in daily life–you must pay them. Our Lord’s kingdom is not a political kingdom in opposition to Caesar. Therefore, Christ followers should pay taxes and obey civil laws. After all, Jesus says–“you are using their coins”. The coin belongs to Caesar–“give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Literally, Jesus says the things of Caesar give back to Caesar.
In doing so, Jesus grants support to the Roman government and does not side with the Zealots, who want to take Rome by force. Paul makes this clear in Romans 13:1 to 2, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
Peter also is just as pointed in 1 Peter 2:13 to 15, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
We have an obligation to government that does not infringe on our duties to God, but are actually ordained by God. Believers were to obey and pay this tax in the time of Christ, even when the government was controlled by a man who thought he was God, and even when it became even worse–with Clinton. No, I mean Nero–sorry!
Of course a believer should never violate a command of Scripture, but we do have a clear responsibility to our government. Titus 3:1, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed.” All true Christians are citizens of Heaven, but this does not exempt us from modeling obedience to the laws of the state.
Paul said in Romans 13:7, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” Even to Obama (sorry, I mean, even when it’s Nero). I keep doing that–bad Chris! The I.R.S. is not the Infernal Revenue Service. Pay your taxes. One taxpayer wrote to the I.R.S. anonymously, “My conscious is bothering me–here is $175 for back taxes. P.S. If my conscious still bothers me, I will send the rest.”
Payment of tax to an idolatrous, blasphemous, pagan people who are about to kill Jesus is still the right thing to do. Give it to them. Pay the tax. “But, they’re going to kill Jesus.” Pay the tax. Caesar has a sphere, and God has a sphere. You don’t have to pay the government any more than you have to, but pay it.
What did the Roman government do for Israel? They protected them from fierce enemies, they built bridges, provided water from aqueducts, even created a peace from war–and so much more. So Jesus calls for the payment of tax, but there is also a distinction between God and Caesar. Jesus denies any claim to “the divine authority” of Caesar with His second statement.
First Our Earthly Allegiance–Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s
Second Our HEAVENLY Allegiance–And to God the things that are God’s
Duty to Caesar is surpassed by duty to God. The ultimate authority in life belongs to God. Our allegiance is not to political activism, but first and foremost to God in Heaven to follow God’s Word. Rather than becoming consumed with political agendas, we should be consumed as Christ’s ambassadors to a lost world. The Kingdom of God is seen in the forgiveness of sins, not in political schemes. We live for eternal realities. Our priority here on earth is to “seek first His Kingdom.”
What difference does it make to fix a political system in this life, when both the people under a bad political system, and the people under a good political system are all still headed to Hell forever, regardless of how good or bad their government is? Listen friends, the problem with many believers today is they are far more focused on fixing Caesar’s faulty system than they are focused on giving God what belongs to God.
Just as Caesar’s image is on a coin, God’s image is on you. You belong to God–therefore render to God what is God’s—you. Give yourself to God, His purposes and His mission on Earth. You’re here to come to Christ and live like Christ, and you’re here to call everyone to come to Christ and to become like Christ. You’re not here to fix our nation or its government, but you’re here to show the world who God is and what He’s like, and to live in a community under the government of Christ–the Church.
Are you more concerned about changing the government, or seeing men and women changed by God’s grace–government or grace? Does it show in how you live and what you talk about? Do you listen to preaching more, or to Rush Limbaugh more? One author has said true Christianity is more concerned with saving souls than it is with gaining votes.
The Great Commission is not a call to effect policy change, but Matthew 28:l9 to 20 is a command to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I [Jesus Christ] commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When you over-politicize the church, you distract that body from its mission. Too many believers are swept away with political agendas at the expense of the proclamation of the Gospel. But what if the government requires you to do something that God forbids you to do? Then you do what God wants you to do. Like Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”
If the government says, “Don’t do this,” and God says, “Do it,” then you do what God says you should do and take the consequences. When that happens, it’s called persecution, and it sometimes results in fines, jail or even martyrdom. Listen friends, you owe your government obedience, submission and your taxes. And you should be thankful for government.
Friends, you arrived here safely because of government–you drove on streets with signals. Plus you can live at home without putrid stink from sewage and garbage because of government. But when the government later forces you to disobey God’s Word, then you must disobey your government and obey God first. Why? Because God claims total ownership of you. Caesar’s on the coin, but God is imprinted on you–you belong to Him. You’re from God’s mint–we bear His image, and we’re to reflect Him to the people of this world. We’re to follow Him on this planet and pursue His mission of proclaiming the Gospel while we have breath. Well, this response from Christ became . . .
#6 The PHENOMENON–The amazed reaction to Christ Verse 17b
At the end of verse 17 it says, “And they were amazed at Him.” Notice the “they”—“they were amazed at Him.” Who is that? Both the Pharisees and the Herodians, and the listening crowd. Their amazed response is listed in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Amazed is a strong compound verb, found only here in the New Testament, actually conveying the thought of grudging admiration. The imperfect tense tells us they were continually surprised, in wonder and amazed at His answer. Not only had Jesus escaped their trap, but He also had thrown a floodlight on the problem.
Martin Luther well said, “The church of the New Testament did not attempt to save its existence by making a compromise with Nero or by stirring up a revolution against tyrants, or by making an alliance with the Persian Empire. But, by simply confessing the truth of the gospel and building up a truly confessing church whose members were prepared to die for their faith.” Today, are you giving to God what is God’s—your entire life? If so, then . . .
First Focus on HEAVEN, not Earth
Let your heart be consumed with our eternal home. Make it your mission to invite everyone to join you in Heaven, through the message of the Gospel. That’s the good news, telling us God became a man in the person of Christ, took our place on the cross dying for the sins of children, rising from the dead and living today to provide forgiveness, new life and eternal life to all those who exchange all that they are for all that Christ is—have you? Colossians 3:1 and 2, “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
Second Speak the TRUTH
A compliment is based on truth–flattery is based on a lie. Flattery is when your grandma says, “You’re the smartest boy in the world,” and you just flunked lunch. God loves the truth and hates flattery so much He says in Psalm 12:3, “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks great things.”
Hypocrites say anything to gain what they want–please encourage others, but watch out for unfounded or excessive compliments. Single gals, watch out for the guy who speaks only sweet. Single guys, watch out for the gals who flirt. Spouses, stay away from words like “never” and “always”. Speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Third Maintain your LOYALTIES
Obey, submit, honor and pray for your government leaders. Toward government, vote, participate, be aware as best you can, but give your life to Christ’s Kingdom, to the work of His Church. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Let’s pray.