Doing what you are not justly required to do.
by Norbert Restrepo
One of the accusations Jesus faced during his earthly ministry was “destroying the law.” But Jesus revealed the spiritual meaning of the law with its deeper application. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:27, 28.
Jesus also removed the “traditions and exactions” with which the priests and rulers made the Sabbath a burden and misrepresented God’s law. However, on certain occasions, He was willing to do what He could not justly be required to do.
Priests, Levites, and prophets were exempt from paying the annual temple tax. Therefore, Jesus was under no obligation to pay the tribute. If Jesus paid the temple tax, it would be taken as a justification to reject His claims of being a teacher or a prophet. But He chose not to enter into a controversy with the Jews. “Lest He should give offense by withholding the tribute, He did that which He could not justly be required to do.
“This lesson would be of great value to His disciples. …Christ taught them not to place themselves needlessly in antagonism to established order. So far as possible, they were to avoid giving occasion for misinterpretation of their faith. While Christians are not to sacrifice one principle of truth, they should avoid controversy whenever it is possible to do so.”1
The apostle Paul practiced this lesson. “He would seek to remove all occasion for misrepresentation, that the force of his message might not be lost.”2 “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ…. Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things….” 1 Corinthians 9:11–15.
Are we willing to forgo our rights in order to accomplish our mission more successfully? May God give us the wisdom to apply this lesson.
Norbert Restrepo, President
1 White, Ellen G., The Desire of Ages, p. 434
2 White, The Act of the Apostles, p. 349