From the Pen of...
Grace, Government, and Stewardship
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mt 22:21) Power belongeth unto God. These truths are as applicable in democratic republics as they are in cruel dictatorships.
- Christians possess dual citizenship. In this land we are citizens of the USA and citizens of Heaven. Both place obligations upon us. While there is potential for regular conflict, Jesus teaches that generally there should not be.
- God in grace gives government for our good. US citizenship is a stewardship entrusted to us by God. It is not an accident that we live now in this land. Jesus said, pay the tax, so we should, all of it. Jesus though unjustly tried and condemned was not disrespectful to Pilate. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were firm in their biblical conviction, bold, but respectful to Melzar, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. Joseph and Nehemiah were loyal to pagan kings.
- In a democratic republic our duties seem to be greater than those in a dictatorship. We can shape our government; even though it may appear futile to do so. Good stewards shouldn’t withdraw! We should vote; speak out when we see wrong; prayerfully consider running for office; respect and earnestly pray for our leaders, regardless of who they are. The Roman officials of Christ’s day were mostly wicked and despotic. The government was pagan, idolatrous and blasphemous when Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar…” We have unavoidable obligations both to government and to God. (Rom 13; Acts 5:29). Grace has given us government. The powers that be are ordained of God.
- The government however is also responsible to God. Caesar’s image on the coin required the rendering of taxes, but Caesar himself was made in the image of God, and he therefore has obligations to God. Caesar may ignore these obligations, but he will answer to God. Never forget that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men. Even today, God rules. None can stay His hand.
- Paul said, “our citizenship is in heaven.” In a sense, we Christians are on a “green card” in this land. Our interaction with government ought therefore to be governed by the highest moral and ethical standards. Our speech ought always to be with “grace, and seasoned with salt.” Paul modeled this balance in Acts, wisely and selflessly using his Roman citizenship to right wrongs, to protect young believers and churches, and to follow God’s leading to Rome. His citizenship was a tool to serve Christ. His affection was set on things above.
- Ultimately the best any government can do is only to restrain sin, slow its unyielding progress outwardly. Only the Gospel can transform the sinner, so we Gospel centric citizens of heaven are essential to the health of any nation.
- God’s kingdom will be not advanced by protest, voting, laws, courts, armies, cable news, or talk radio, but by the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone. Be a good citizen of heaven in this land. Be the light and salt Christ intended you to be. It is the most loyal act of citizenship you can offer your King and your country.
- Pray for your leaders, that God in His goodness will save them. Consider the amazing changes He wrought by grace in Saul of Tarsus and Nebuchadnezzar. I wonder how many of God’s faithful servants were praying for these two men.
- Pray that our leaders will understand the magnitude of their decisions, and will comprehend their accountability to God for each vote they cast. Pray that God will raise up Nehemiahs, Daniels, Josephs, and Esthers among them, those who love the word, who will humbly and selflessly use it to give them wise counsel.
- Jesus said when you pray, say “Thy kingdom come”. Christian, though yet future, you are an eternal citizen of heaven’s capital city, the New Jerusalem, and we must ever remember here and now in this world that the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Christian steward, do you really believe this? Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God’s.