Tag: Submission

Submission to Lawful Authority—Choose Battles to Avoid

Living in the Image of God M03S09

Christ teaching illustrates submission to lawful authority despite possible grounds for objection. To understand, we discuss examples from the bible to illustrate choosing battles to avoid to focus effort better. In one example, Jesus chose to pay the temple tax despite recognizing grounds for objection based on unfair implementation of the tax law. In another, Paul recommended circumcision of Timothy despite an existing church ruling that the circumcision was not necessary. In a third, David postponed punishment of two subordinates for offenses they committed during his reign but proclaimed a severe sentence against them as he passed their cases to his successor Solomon. He chose to avoid potential problems of punishing them at the time of their offense to focus instead on his overall mission.

Submission to Lawful Authority—Choose Battles to Avoid 10:26

We conclude the bible study series on submission to lawful authority, whereby we seek understanding of Christ interactions regarding the temple tax. We recall that he chose to pay the tax despite recognizing possible grounds for objection. In the first two sessions, we discussed the basis for submission to authority (Christ Teaches Submission to Lawful Authority) and the requirement for conforming to due process in the event of an objection (Submission to Lawful Authority—Due Process for Objections). The current session focuses on understanding that an objection could be better not raised even if justified. We discuss examples from the bible to illustrate choosing battles to avoid in order to focus effort better.

The decision on whether to avoid or fight a battle could be made by categorizing potential battles based on how they might affect the overall mission. Avoid a battle if the objective of the overall mission can be accomplished without fighting the battle and the message of the mission would not be diluted by avoiding the battle. In contrast, fight a battle if the battle is necessary to accomplish the objective of the overall mission.

Christ interactions regarding the temple-tax law provide an example based on his choosing to pay the tax despite recognizing potential grounds for an objection regarding the implementation of the law [Matthew 17:27]: “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.” He chose to pay the tax “so that we may not cause offense.” By paying the tax, he avoided potential problems that could arise with raising an objection against the tax law. There could be future opportunities to address the fairness of the tax collection.

The bible provides several other examples of choosing to avoid a battle in order to conserve effort. In one example, Paul recommended that Timothy be circumcised to join the team for the 2nd Missionary Journey, despite an existing ruling of the Jerusalem church that such circumcision was not necessary. He chose to circumcise Timothy to avoid potential controversy regarding his circumcision.

In another example, David postponed punishment of Shimei and Joab for offenses they committed during his reign. However, he later proclaimed a severe sentence against each of them during his handover to Solomon. He did not punish them at the time of their offense to avoid potential problems that could have arisen from punishing them. He chose to avoid the battles to focus effort on his overall mission.

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Christ Teaches Submission to Lawful Authority

Living in the Image of God M03S07

Christ interactions regarding the temple tax convey a message of submission to lawful authority as an aspect of human relationship with God. He chose to pay the tax despite potential grounds for objection. Submission to authority is God’s mandate conveyed through Prophet Samuel’s interactions with the people of Israel, when God delegated to government the responsibility to reign over the people and authority to execute the responsibility. Paul summarized the relationship in his letter to Romans—Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Christ Teaches Submission to Lawful Authority 10:50

This bible study begins a three-part series on understanding human interactions with lawful authority. We discuss Christ interactions regarding the temple tax to understand the basis for submission to lawful authority and assessing potential grounds for objection. We see that he chose to pay the tax despite recognizing potential grounds for objection. We begin the series with a discussion of the basis for submission to lawful authority.

We see that submission to lawful authority is rooted in God’s mandate conveyed through interactions between Prophet Samuel and the people of Israel, when God approved a government based on kingship for Israel. He delegated to government the responsibility to reign over the people and authority to execute the responsibility: “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights” [1 Samuel 8:9].

As we discuss in a previous bible study under Authority of Government—Israel Asks for King, the responsibility and authority that God delegated to government based on the interactions include the authority to collect taxes and other revenue, raise military and security forces, own landed property, and represent the nation among other nations.

To understand the basis for submission to authority, we discuss Christ interactions regarding the temple tax and the interactions between Samuel and the people of Israel regarding their demand for a government led by king. The second session in the series will discuss respect for due process in any event of raising objections against lawful authority. The third session will discuss submission to authority despite grounds for objection: to emphasize the principle of choosing battles to avoid in order to direct effort to more fruitful objectives.

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