Suggested Reading: Matthew 17:24-27
They say a fool and his money are soon parted but I would like to add another twist. A fool and his relationships are parted sooner than he is parted from his money. He loves his money more than he values the people in his life. He often ends up losing the relationships and the money.
“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?”
In response to Peter’s reply,“From others,” Jesus said that the children are then exempted from paying tax. In other words, all authority in heaven and in earth has been given to Jesus (see Matthew 28:18), and He did not have to pay any tax. He possesses it all. He is in charge of it all. And yet, in order to avoid offending and causing trouble, He is prepared to pay what He does not owe.
We can clearly see Jesus’ authority over heaven and earth in the way He solves this dilemma. I mean, recruiting a fish to deliver your tax payment is not exactly common around these parts of the world. Here again we see the Lord setting us a perfect example. Of all people, He is the least indebted to mankind. But, even though He was exempt from paying temple tax, Jesus says to Peter:
“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.”
Sometimes, the Lord requires of us to do things to avoid unnecessary offense even though God does not command it from us. What He does command is to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us and sometimes it depends on us to let the money go so that peace may be established. Good relations with others are important to God and love for money is one of the biggest destroyers of relationships. When it comes to issues about money, Jesus teaches us to avoid offense at all costs and not to cling to money at the expense of relationships.
When we decide to obey the Lord in this regard, our heart’s attitude is also important. It won’t help if we grudgingly obey and say, “Yes, I’ll pay them, but they will never see me again.” or “I will never speak to them again.” That is defeating the purpose behind this lesson. When we do obey we shouldn’t do it with a bitter attitude, but with our love for our Lord in mind.
If we are upset and bitter that we had to part with the money, it shows that we are not completely free from the love of money. When we decide to obey and pay for something that we don’t owe, we are already moving in the right direction. We can, however, make our obedience complete by doing so with a happy heart, knowing that whatever we lose for the sake of obedience, we will gain a hundred fold –in this life and the next. May the Lord grant us a heart to obey Him joyfully.
A fool would place money above the relationships in his life. Money has only limited value. Relationships are priceless. And even if the situation does not involve someone with whom we wish to foster a close relationship, we are still doing the right thing by obeying our Lord’s command for He is only teaching us these things for our own good.