Matthew 22:15-22 NIV: 15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So, they left him and went away. Reading this verse, I see a couple of things here. Today, lets address one of them in verse 16 ".... You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are." I've read this passage so many times yet, I never paid attention to these words. Here, the disciples of the Pharisees are doing what they were ordered to do - trap Jesus so they could accuse him of being a liar. But, their description of Jesus' character is what stood out this morning. They recognized a characteristic of Jesus that we all should embody: Not changing whom we are because of the people around us. It took me years to discover me. To discover that I like me and my own company. Some years ago, I was on a job that often called for team building events where we would have to travel to a location. Being responsible for a company car, I would invite others to ride with me. On this one occasion, many of the ladies in the office wanted to ride with me instead of their immediate supervisor. She was hurt by this. However, she failed to realize that her treatment of them caused their reaction to her. The office manager seeing this asked me, "Nakya, wouldn't you be hurt if you were in her shoes?" I looked right into her eyes and said "No". She couldn't believe it and said so. I further explained, "I like me. I like my own company. It wouldn't bother me if they chose to ride with her. What bothers me is that you all are trying to force them to endure her company when you know how they are treated." Neither their boss or the office manager liked my answer. The most important thing was the treatment that the office staff had to endure at the hands of their supervisor and the office manager. What I've learned over the years is to be me in any situation and at all times. I love me some me!! Not because I'm conceited or think I'm perfect. Quite the opposite. I have many flaws that I work to improve constantly. But, no one has the right to take me out of my character. I've learned not to be swayed by people. Either you love me for me or you leave me alone. I'm reminded of a line from Good Times when one of JJ's friends wanted to take Thelma out. She kept denying him. He said, ".... love me or leave me baby....". She decided to leave him and was fine with her decision. We must be okay with leaving behind those that aren't meant to be in our lives. Reasons, seasons, lifetimes. I constantly remember that those 3 are why people come into my life. If they are there for a reason, then I take what they have to give and move on. Seasonal people give what they must over a period of time then bounce out of my life. Those lifers are the ones that invest in me and I am forever connected to them. Either way, anyone that comes into my life has to know who I am and that my core values won't be swayed because of who they are. Be A Blessing & Not Just Blessed.