Luke 20 v 20-26

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”

25 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

There is a whole lot of difference between honour and flattery.

However, they look the same.

You can be congratulated on your work, how you speak, your wisdom and how you are with people. You can be praised for your righteous lifestyle. You can have lots of ‘likes’.

These comments can honour you and yet be a manipulative ruse, a dishonest ambush and as much an attack as if someone had punched you.

The religious leaders wanted Jesus to fall into their trap of making him say something against Rome. His answer was perfect as it always is.

The duplicitous are always close by.

Some don’t even know they are doing it. They think they are simply being nice. Flattery is nice, right?

Raised to truly believe you are capable of being an astronaut soon leads to despondency and questioning your factory-working father (nothing wrong with working in a factory) who wanted his son to travel further in life than he had done and thus satisfying the deep discouragement and failure within himself.

There are so many examples of flattery leading to failure, even inside the Church.

We learn flattery early on in life and then some can become experts in it.

Some have friends that are actually friends with benefits (sorry about the connotation but it’s true). They are hoping to get. Their new friend will open doors for them etc.

Secret plans are being made today based on greed and selfish need. This is spiritual warfare and the Church, the Christian, you, can be at the centre of that plan. Make sure at least you are not the one making the plan.

So how are we not duped? Well of course, we are taken for a ride throughout life. But we try and strengthen our defences without being defensive.

How does Jesus help us?

1. Jesus saw through their duplicity – if there is one gift of the Spirit we need today it is discernment and secondly wisdom. We need to know whether the approach is from God or the enemy of our soul or just our own desires and appetites. We need to pray for this gift.

2. Find the question – Jesus was the master of the right question. He does it again here. Throughout his life there are records of 307 questions. Your question can open up the real reason you are being questioned.

3. Centre your answer around giving – Jesus clearly shows that he is no rebel. Taxes should be paid because the coins bearing Caesar’s image belong to him. Similarly if you bear God’s image then you must give your life to Him. I have found throughout my life that giving to others and giving to God has proven to be the right path to walk on.

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