Tricky questions…

The tricky questions make you stop and think. Sometimes the answer is so very simple. Other times it is complex.

Imagine being one of those Pharisees, always trying to “catch” Jesus in a loophole. They spent so much time in their rituals, intent on their own way of finding God. They were face-to-face with Him but never knew it.

It’s unbelievable!

Until we see ourselves as a Pharisee. We chase after God with our own rituals and insistences. We try to trick Him with our questions and we are amazed by His answers. And then we walk away until we are really ready to hear Him.

As you read the following excerpt from Matthew, think about the scenario: What might you have heard in that first meeting? As they hatched their plan, what were all the side conversations? Who ran the meeting? What commentary might you have heard as they headed off with Herod’s reporters to meet with Jesus? And who was bold enough to speak? Who was the lead Pharisee? Who had the confidence to address Jesus? And what happened when Jesus answered them? Did anyone in the group start to wonder about their own place in the unfolding of this incredible story? Or did they just continue on in their insistence? Surely someone in the group started to question whether this was actually Jesus. But to go against your peers/community is not easy.

Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply amazed them, and they went away. Matthew 22 15:22 NLT

In the Mood

Sometimes I walk around the kitchen wondering what sounds good to eat and while there are multiple options at home, I am not “in the mood” for any of them and I think about where I can go buy what sounds good.

Really now? There are people starving and I am considering what I am in the mood to eat?

Sometimes I have so many things I need to do but I am not “in the mood” to do any of them. Should I really let whether I am “in the mood” to do something or not have an impact on what I choose to do? Chances are high that if I am not “in the mood” for something it might be exactly what I am supposed to be doing but I am just announcing (in an acceptable way) how I really feel about it. Most people I know aren’t ever in the mood for taxes, a huge pile of dishes or laundry, dealing with debt or _______________ (you fill in the blank) but they are all things in need of attention and focus.

Our attitude towards a task or requirement is important. I have been trying to watch how often I claim to be in the mood or not in the mood for something. I’ll admit, it seems whether I am “in the mood” for something or not likely means that I am being selfish but how often do I say that out-loud? Selfishness or looking-out-for-number-one is very acceptable and sometimes we hide behind the phrase in the mood because it is readily understood and socially acceptable and it has plagued us for thousands of years.

Here is what Paul writes in Romans 7:

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

Lord, transform my thinking and my doing. Help me to not pause and consider whether I am in the mood or not when something needs to be done. Help me to have the desire to get it done and with a pleasant attitude. Thank You for Your transforming work in my life. Help me to have Your attitude! Amen!