Pay Your Dues

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22: 1-22

PAY-YOUR-DUES

15 Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. 16 They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. 17 So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18 Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? 19  Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. 20 “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked.

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed (Matthew 22:15-22, Common English Bible).

I love this passage. I know some might think that strange, but I do. I also happen to be preaching on this passage tomorrow. No, it wasn’t planned where on Saturday before I preached this passage on Sunday I would blog about it. It just worked out that way. Funny how God does some of that sometime. It just happens to be the Sunday we are going to talk about stewardship.

I thought that instead of chasing after something else, either a different text or a different explanation of this text, I would kind of preview my sermon for Sunday.

A lot of us look at paying our taxes to the government and our tithes to the church as a lot like paying our dues to be part of a club. Taxes are the things we pay for the privilege of living in this country. They help with building roads (because Cindy works for TxDOT, the Texas building roads people and my Dad was retired from TxDOT and I got to eat as a kid, and well I guess today too because of TxDOT) and having a military. I guess taxes are kind of like paying dues. You pay your dues for the work the organization does either internally or externally.

Tithes are different. Yes, in a sense it is the same. We give to help the church carry out its ministries. But, here is how it is different. We don’t give to be part of the club. If you want to be part of say, the Lion’s Club, Rotary or the Masons, you pay your dues or you don’t stay in the club. The church is different than that. We have lots of members who never contribute at all. We don’t say you are no longer a member because you didn’t “pay your dues.” The church is different.

In this lesson, Jesus isn’t talking about giving to God the things that are God’s and talking about money. In fact, Jesus says to give the money to Caesar. There is something else we are to give to God. If you want to know what that is there are a few things you do. You can come to worship at First United Methodist Church in Sweeny TX tomorrow. Worship begins at 10:00 A.M. 207 E. First Street, Sweeny.

Your second choice, you can watch our live feed on my Facebook profile or you can see the video later, on either my profile of the churches. Third, you can look back here Sunday afternoon or evening and I will post the sermon manuscript.

What we place in the offering plate isn’t paying our dues. It is an offering of thanksgiving, not out of obligation but as our way of showing a thankful heart not only for what God has already done for us, but also for the ways we know God will bless us in the future.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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