Ascribing Value – Reflection for 22 October 2017
“Whose likeness is on the coin?” This is the question Jesus asks as the Pharisees and Herodians team up to try and trap him. “How do you measure value?” is the deeper question. As we look in our own wallets, we find pieces of paper with particular images and special ink. We have come to a shared understanding of the value of these symbols. We use these symbols to translate our labor into the things we need and the things we want. If we are honest with ourselves, we even use it to value other people and ourselves. The value of this paper lies only in the value we ascribe to it.
The psalmist exhorts us to ascribe unto God the honor due his Name. How do we ascribe honor to God? Is it with the same currency we use to value things in our daily transactions? Instead, how might we honor God with the things that He values? He has already told us the He doesn’t need anything we could give because whether we understand it or not, He owns all things. Instead, He calls us to honor Him with justice, kindness, and humility.
Jesus concludes his lesson to the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the gathered crowd with the instruction to “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” As we go through our daily lives, we have the choice to ascribe value according to Caesar or according to God. Will we value our time based on what we earn or on how we love? Will we value others based on what they can earn or give or based on how they are loved by God? What will we value with our attention, our time, and our labor? Will we ascribe honor and power to Caesar or to God?