The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away. Matthew 22:15-22
The challenging part of every new year, is not the resolutions to keep, or learning to write the new year on a letter or a check. Really, it is trying to make sure all the previous year's receipts are gathered, collated and added up for taxes. We then send them off to a guy we know who is a specialist in clergy taxes. Clergy taxes are a unique challenge and very, very complicated. We decided a long time ago to get someone to help us with our taxes in order to keep us sane. I have often wondered how much help most of us get to know what we need to give to God. Or do we just guess?
Jesus is being tested, which seems to be a sport for the Pharisees. Actually it seems that Jesus makes them nervous. So they try to trip him but he answers simply and confounds them all. They had rules but lived by the letter of the law rather than by God's intention. God's intention is always for compassion, healing and generosity. We are invited to put our best forward for God, to be generous so that we might bring God's love to this world.
Today, I ask God to give me the strength to give my best at all times and to live for others. May we not focus on the small worries of our lives but rather give our best and know God will supply the rest.