Show Me the Money

Some men tried to set a trap for Jesus one day by asking him a trick question. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar? They expected a simple yes/no, either/or answer that would force him into a corner and get him into trouble with either the Roman authorities or the Jewish leaders. It would be a win/win for them and a lose/lose for him. But as he often did, Jesus had an interesting reply . . . Show Me the Money!

“Show Me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought Him a denarius.

“Whose image and inscription is this?” He asked them.

“Caesar’s,” they said to Him.

Then He said to them,

“Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,

and to God the things that are God’s”

(Matthew 22:19-22).

In answering their question, Jesus avoided the obvious either/or, and totally reframed the dilemma. In the eternal scheme of things, it doesn’t matter who you pay taxes to. The real issue is whose likeness is on the coin and whose picture is on you as a person because the image shows the identity of the owner. Since Caesar’s picture is on the denarius, go ahead and return it to him. It belongs to him. Likewise, because God’s image is on you, he claims ownership of your life, so give back to the Lord what is rightfully his. You belong to him.

Jesus’s reply turned the tables on them because they were the spiritual leaders who were supposed to understand the scriptures. They were the ones who claimed to have the image of God. Yet in reality, they were far from God.

Give back to Caesar what already belongs to him,

and give back to the Lord what already belongs to him.

An adult insect is officially called an imago, which means image or picture. This is the stage the butterfly looks its best, is fully developed, and fulfills its purpose. This is the stage that has captured the imagination of people around the world since the beginning of history. And this is where our discussion of the butterfly life cycle comes to a crescendo.

The butterfly is a wonderful analogy of the spiritual growth among Christians because metamorphosis means transformation, and the gradual changes from one stage to the next are so appropriate for a discussion of the changes that take place in our lives. But another fantastic part of the story is that the mature or perfect form of the adult butterfly is called an imago. This is a powerful reminder that every Butterfly Believer was fashioned in the Image of God. Theologians refer to this by using the Latin phrase, Imago Dei.

His image, his likeness, his stamp of ownership is indelibly printed on our soul, our very being, and we have chosen to give ourselves back to him. This is what we were created for. This is our reason for being. This is what empowers us to reach our highest level of existence. This is what we were designed for.

No matter who you are, where you are from, whether you are male or female, or what you look like, you are made in the Image of God and there’s nobody in the world more important or more valuable than you. You are free to be yourself, free to pursue your dreams, free to express yourself, and free to fly. And in that freedom, you can liberate others to do the same. You are a Butterfly Believer. And you are beautiful.

This is an excerpt from Paul Linzey’s book, Butterfly Believers, which is available on this website and on Amazon. It is perfect for home group or Bible study discussion or for personal devotional reading.

What Mutual Submission Looks Like

couple-1030744_1920Husbands are called to submit to their wives just as certainly as wives are called to submit to their husbands. What might this look like in a marriage?

There are many ways this can be implemented. One way is the impact it has on the decision-making process. For example, some couples take turns making decisions. Others make every decision together, talking it out until they agree on what to do. One method is to have the partner who is more knowledgeable in that area make the decision. Another possibility would be for the partner who feels more passionate on that issue to decide. My wife and I have used every one of these methods. The key is to build and maintain unity in the marriage, to honor one another, and foster equality and mutuality.

Bible and TeacupThis is one of the take-aways of Ephesians 5:21, where the apostle writes, “Submit to one another in reverence for Christ.” It seems to me that “in reverence for Christ” is a reference to the Imago Dei, the Image of God in both husband and wife. We are to submit to each other and honor each other because both husband and wife are made in the Image of God.

Another way mutual submission might show up in marriage is the way you balance two careers. We discovered early on that a wife’s career is just as important as a husband’s. We also realized that it’s sometimes difficult for both to get good jobs in the same area at the same time. Because of this, my wife and I have taken turns making professional sacrifices in order to further the other’s career.

A few years ago, I was pastoring a good church when my wife had an opportunity to join the faculty at a university that was a bit too far to commute. After discussing it, praying about it, and thinking it through, I decided to resign from the ministry position in order for her to take the teaching job. A lot of people criticized me for doing that, because they believed the husband and his career mattered, and the wife and her interests should always be subservient or marginalized. A few months after we moved, the Lord opened the doors to another ministry opportunity for me. Linda found fulfillment in her career, and so did I.

Ten years later, I had a chance to go into the Army as an Active Duty Chaplain. Knowing how much that meant to me, Linda willingly resigned from the teaching position that she loved, in order to facilitate my dream of being a military chaplain. It just so happened, that my first duty station was near a university that had a PhD program in her field. She applied and was accepted.

As she was completing her degree, she got a new job that wouldn’t have been possible had she not completed the doctorate. Again, one of us submitted so the other could pursue a career opportunity. Every time we did that, it worked out to the benefit of the one who was making the sacrifice, and we were both able to pursue our dreams.

If you want to read more about this, take a look at WisdomBuilt Biblical Principles of Marriage.


Attitude Check!

I used to drive more than 50 miles to work, and the same distance home in the evening. The traffic was usually pretty bad, often rainy, and as you’ve probably experienced, other drivers are sometimes not very nice. When I started despising drivers who made stupid decisions, I developed a bad attitude and realized I needed to do something about it.

After praying, I decided to come up with a phrase I could say whenever another driver irked me. Here’s what I ended up with.

You are a fabulous human being, fashioned in the indelible image of the Creator.

After I memorized the sentence, I started saying it whenever a driver did something dumb or dangerous: ten, eleven, a dozen times a day. Nobody else knew what I was doing. I’m the only one who heard me, even though I said it out loud. It helped me remember that every man and every woman has the divine image, even those who are not living for the Lord. Even those who are terrible drivers.

Being in God’s image and likeness is an important part of the Judeo-Christian world view. We’re not merely the product of a godless evolutionary process. While we may have many similarities with the animals, what distinguishes us from the rest of creation is the image of God. The very first page of the Bible says,

“God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.’”

The Westminster Shorter Catechism poses the question, “How did God create man?” And then provides the answer, “God created man male and female after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

To be in God’s image has two meanings. First, it means we are like him. Second, it means we represent him.

How we are like God refers to his activity and character and the ways we are like him. God communicates. He creates. He relates. He loves. He keeps his word. He is loyal. He is compassionate. He has knowledge. We can make these same statements of human beings because we are fashioned in his image. We have the ability to create, to communicate, to relate, and to love. We have moral capabilities such as loyalty and honesty. We have the ability to show compassion. We have the capacity for knowledge. And like our creator, we have the ability to make our world a better place.

The fact that we represent God has a different focus and a different starting point for how we think and live. The emphasis is not on how we are like God, but that we represent the Lord. We represent God and his values to the planet and to other people. We represent him in matters of social justice and spirituality, which is why Christians should be involved in the community, setting an example of alleviating pain in the world, and caring for the needy.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 the apostle writes, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ.”

Not only do we have the divine image, we have the Holy Spirit in us, another powerful reason for understanding we are to represent the Lord at all times, even when driving on the freeway.

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This devotion was published at and is an adaptation from the author’s book WisdomBuilt Biblical Principles of Marriage, Copyright © 2019 Paul Linzey, used with permission.


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