This time of year is a lovely but in many ways a predictable season: flowers will, likely as not, bloom; bees will, likely as not, buzz, and taxes, will likely as not, be due.
While the Bible is filled with stories of taxes and tributes in both the Old and the New Testament the one that I suspect that stays with most readers is Jesus’ admonishment (as the Pharisees try to entrap him in sedition) to pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s [Matthew 22: 15-22]. In his response Jesus deftly avoids the simplistic trap set for him by not speaking to the “justness” of the tax but only to the obligation of the residents to pay the tax (and ideally with Roman coinage) and then turning the tables, as he so often did, and demanding of his audience to consider if they are really fulfilling their obligations to God. I find Jesus’ response a worthy one to consider at this time of year; as my family is asked to fulfill our civic obligation I have to ask myself if I am fulfilling my spiritual obligations. Am I a responsible and joyful giver? I suspect that the same question lurked in the minds and lives of those who were there to hear Jesus that day. How often were their prayers heartfelt rather than obligatory? How often their gifts were given in joy rather than regret? Did they, after hearing Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, go home that day and seek forgiveness and strength to do better for their God? Do we?
“Dear Lord, thank you for the many, many gifts in our lives. Give me the courage to trust, to become a cheerful and faithful supporter of your church through my gifts of time, talents and tithe. Help me to do and to be who you would have me be. Amen."