No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, You Are Welcome Here.

July 23, 2023

Luke 10:25-37, Zechariah 7:8-10

Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman


Love God and love your neighbor.  The whole Ten Commandments could be summed up with these two: love God and love your neighbor.  In a different place in the gospels, Jesus says the whole Hebrew law can be summed up in these two commandments.  Throughout the Bible, from the law to the prophets to the gospels to the Christian letters, we hear over and over again that a faithful relationship with God means loving God and loving our neighbors.

They go together.  We cannot love God unless we also love our neighbors, and we cannot love our neighbors without the spiritual gifts of kindness and generosity.

Kindness and generosity are how we create God’s community here on earth.  Kindness and generosity are how we care for the vulnerable and show mercy to one another.  Kindness and generosity are how we make the world a better place for all.

Some gifts of kindness and generosity are easily seen.  Those served by our ministry partners are fed through the abundance of the First Fruits garden and the generosity of those who are harvesting and delivering all of that squash.  Numerous children and youth will start the school year in August a little bit more ready because of the generous sharing of school supplies from our church community.

Other gifts of kindness and generosity are not as visible, like the people who will feel valued and special because they received a handmade card in the mail from the sunshine card ministry.  Like those whose lives will be changed by the hours our prayer team spends in prayer and I mean hours.  The same is true of those who will find a welcome here in this Christian community – whether for an hour or for decades.  Simple acts of kindness, of generosity, a smile, a listening ear, an understanding word, the knowledge that you are worth the gift of someone’s time, prayers, and energy.  All of these gifts of kindness and generosity, tangible and more subtle, make the world a better place, one individual at a time.

When the Apostle Paul writes about the gifts of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.  (Galatians 5:22-23, NRSV), when he calls these the fruits of the Spirit, he intends for us to see how these qualities, given to each and every one of us, how these qualities will bear fruit in the world, creating more – more love, more peace, more joy, more kindness, more generosity.

Of course, more generosity and kindness make others’ lives better.  They make our lives better, too.

In the fall during the Season of Generosity, we share about how kindness and generosity nurture faithfulness in us, reminding us that all of our gifts come from God, reminding us to trust God.  During the Season of Generosity, we lift up how responding to God’s generosity with our own generosity and kindness nurtures our relationship with God.

A deeper connection with God is not the only way these spiritual gifts make a difference in our lives though.  As these gifts help us love others and love God, these spiritual gifts also bless us with life.


The parable, the story of the Good Samaritan, starts with a lawyer asking Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25).  We often assume this story is about kindness and generosity to others, and yet, this teaching of Jesus’ begins with the lawyer asking about himself.  How can I be blessed?  How can I gain life, real life, eternal life?

And Jesus turns the question back on him, ‘what does the law say?’  “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27)  To which Jesus responds -practice, embody, share the gifts of generosity and kindness and you will live.  You will live.

When we hear the story of the Good Samaritan, we so often focus on how the kindness and generosity of the Samaritan blesses the man set upon by robbers.  That is certainly true.  It is also true that the spiritual gifts of kindness and generosity make the Samaritan’s life better as well.  Our kindness and generosity bless us as they bless others.

Pause with me and remember a time when you generously shared a gift from your heart.  Remember a time when you shared your time and energy, shared a kind word or a listening ear. Think back to that moment and remember how you felt after your kindness and generosity.  Did you feel happy? Joyful?  Did you feel like you had made a difference, using your talents wisely and with self-control?  Did you feel a sense of rightness and peace, a deeper faithfulness because you felt like you were doing as God had invited you to do?

As I shared last week, the fruits of the Spirit are like a really good fruit salad with one fruit or gift enhancing another. The fruits of the Spirit bring out the best in one another and in us.  And the fruits of the Spirit also multiply one another.  When we are generous, we are kind.  When we are generous and kind, we are loving.  When we are generous and kind and loving, we experience joy and peace.  When we experience all of those things we find ourselves blessed with patience and self-control and gentleness.  And when our lives are filled with all of those gifts, we discover new levels of faithfulness to God.


A few weeks ago, I was at the library and as I left, there were two women right outside the door.  One of the women was clearly in pain and having a difficult time standing, let alone walking.  The other woman was a young mother, holding a baby.  They were not together.  The mother had clearly stopped on her way into the library – stopped because she was concerned about the woman in pain.

I could immediately see the concern all over the mother’s face.  I could immediately feel the generosity of her kindness as she paused from her own plans to make sure the other woman was okay and then when the mother could see that the woman was not okay, she stayed to watch over her.

The mother’s generosity of kindness inspired the same gifts in me, and I paused from my hustle and bustle to stand alongside the woman who was having back spasms.  She said she didn’t want help.  She told us there wasn’t anything that could be done for her other than to slowly make her way to her car.  And so I walked slowly with her.  Not in any obvious hovering way, just in a “I’m going this way too and here if you need me” way.  And the young mother, with just a look of understanding, handed over her care of the other woman to me, and continued on her way.  As for the other woman, we chatted a bit as we made our way to our cars.

I hope that little moment of kindness made the other woman’s life better.  I hope she saw in that moment that she is so important that two strangers would stop to make sure she was okay.  I hope that little bit of generosity of our time warmed her heart, bearing fruit in her life.

That moment of kindness and generosity also made my life better.  I experienced the Spirit’s joy; I experienced the Spirit’s peace; I was reminded that just as I am filled with the spiritual gifts of kindness and generosity so too do the spiritual gifts of patience and gentleness live in me.

In that moment, I felt a sense of wholenesss, and that is what Jesus is saying to us when he invites us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.  Jesus is inviting us to practice the gifts, the fruits of the Spirit, not just for the sake of others, not just to make the world a better place for our neighbors.  Jesus is inviting us to practice, to embody the gifts of the Spirit so our lives will be better, so we will feel connected, feel whole, and experience life as God intends for us to experience it – a life filled with all of the good things:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.  (Galatians 5:22-23, NRSV).