“Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” … Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Mark 12:14 &17

The Pharisees were expecting a yes/no answer. Jesus, however, gives them a principle and lets them work it out for themselves. This is often how God works. We would like a yes/no answer. Is it ok to watch this movie? Should I attend this event? Am I allowed to date this person? In these situations, God rarely gives yes/no answers because he has already given us principles and he expects us to think through how to apply them.

Principles like, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world” (Romans 12:2). “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). God knows that to give us a principle, rather than a yes/no answer, is bound to cause conflict because Christians are going to come to different conclusions as to what is acceptable behaviour. So why does God operate like this?

God doesn’t want robots who obey orders without thinking. He wants friends (John 15:15) who will talk/pray/think things through with him. Also, more mature believers are better equipped to handle situations where a new believer may struggle or fall into temptation. Therefore God may send one believer into an undesirable venue to be a witness, whereas he may deter another believer from going to the exact same venue.

Consequently, we can’t insist other believers adhere to our conscience on these sorts of issues. As we spend time talking/praying/thinking through what God is saying to us, we remember it may be different to what he says to someone else (John 21:22).