Our scripture this week is Matthew 22:15-22.

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Jesus knows the religious leaders who have gathered are plotting against Him. We might have refused to talk to them or shouted them away, but that’s not how Jesus chooses to work. Instead He hears them out, no matter how much He disagrees with their statement.

While we encounter opposition in the world today, almost never are those with whom we disagree actively planning to kill us, as this group did Christ. Even in the face of such a threat, Jesus listens and responds wisely. He turns what could be a confrontation into a discussion that confounds His opponents and they leave.

Perhaps we can’t respond to difficult discussion as quickly or logically as Jesus does, but we can choose not to raise the level of tension with our answers. Fighting fire with fire only means more fire. Jesus says “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).

Loving Lord, teach us Your patience when we face hard conversations and difficult choices. May we show the world Your way of relating to each other that all may know Your love. Amen.

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