"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. . . "

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. . . “

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“Jesus said to them,’Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17)

Jesus recognized the political scene, and affirmed the priority of God’s will. We are told to pray for our political leaders:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” (I Timothy 2:1,2)

It is evident that God desires a peaceful and good life for each one of us. The atmosphere should be “godly”.

Although we are to seek God and his kingdom (Matthew 6:33), we are not to ignore the governmental scene around us. We are to be good stewards in our position of being the citizens of the United States. What are we to look for? Men and women of integrity who respect the truth and tell the truth. Men and women that seek the welfare of their country, and are perceptive and have understanding. We need leaders who are competent and strong in truth, justice, and righteousness.

Truth When our leaders lie to us, we become cynical, and wonder when tobelieve them and when not to believe them.

Jesus: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

We wonder why they are not telling the truth. Do governing officials tell us what we would like to hear, rather than what we ought to hear? When the truth is told, we can be happy knowing that we are dealing with reality and people with integrity.

Justice means that in the same circumstances, all are to be treated equally. It does not matter whether we are black, white, or brown. It is not to matter whether we are rich or poor.

“My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1)

“You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15)

“My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1)

Occam’s Razor needs to be observed: “no complexity without necessity.”

Righteousness means that we do what is right, we do not lie, steal, or embezzle. We do not mislead, we do not cheat. We have high regard for God, and endeavor to do what he teaches us to do. We seek out and live by the teachings of scripture.

One of the privileges we have in the United States is to vote for officials and for propositions. We should not sit on our hands. We should be engaged, informing ourselves, studying the issues and showing up at the voting booth. We understand that we are servants of our Savior, and to make our decisions in harmony with the goodness he teaches us. Let us pray for our states and our nation, and for God’s guidance that we may be responsible citizens.

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is:
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.




Calling names is just a lazy way of neglecting the process of reason.  “Be angry, but do not sin” Psalm 4:4

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the counsel and whoever says “You fool” shall be liable to the hell of fire.” ~ Matthew 5:22

It appears to me that the above section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, gets little attention. Anger leads to harm, and we should keep it under control, lest we say and do things that we will later regret. When Jesus said, “You fool”, he could have said “You idiot”, “You moron”, “You are stupid!”.

I have been watching with dismay the candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations insulting one another. Virtually all of them claim to be Christians! Many years ago, President Lyndon Johnson, said something like this: “I do not think that my audience is interested in my opinion of my opponents.” Surely all of the candidates do much better if they tell us what they believe, what they disbelieve, and what they would do if elected President.

Do we sink to the level of calling other people disparaging names, when we disagree with what they do or say? I am not saying that we should not offer criticisms of people, whom we see doing wrong or of ideas that we recognize as fallacious. But calling them names does little good—and can produce considerable harm. Please understand that I do not look favorably on Political Correctness. It is an excessive effort to avoid imagined speech that might possibly discourage or hurt someone else. It is a significant threat to freedom of speech, which implies that we are not to punish people for saying things that we dislike. Indeed, Political Correctness is aimed at Christianity, that Christians should keep silent about their beliefs.

What should we do? God has given us the power of reason, to discern between good and bad. If we object to what someone has said or done, we should be able to explain it. Calling names is just a lazy way of neglecting the process of reason. We understand that almost everyone insults others, whether present or absent. But the behavior of the majority is not necessarily the indication of what is right! I have to tell you, that thinking about this matter is going to make me more careful in how I express myself regarding others, including those with whom I strongly disagree.

There is another side to criticism, and that is commendation and recognition of the good that someone else does. There are few of us who would not be helped by an encouragement or a word of thanks. God gives us wonderful words of encouragement in the Bible:

“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ~ Psalm 103:2-5

“Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” ~ John 8:31, 32