Jesus freak, practical theologian, wife, mother, advocate, sister, friend, forever student, author, geek, gamer, nerd, Alaskan, ferret obsessed, outdoorsy, artsy, quirky, cheeky...muddling way through this thing called life with flair, tears, and silliness flavored with a dash of snarkiness. :)
then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what
must I do to inherit eternal life?”He
said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”He
answered, “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 neighbor as yourself.”And
he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you
will live.” But
wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my
Scripture - Luke 10: 30-37
replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell
into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away,
leaving him half dead.Now
by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he
passed by on the other side.So
likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by
on the other side.But
a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he
was moved with pity.He
went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on
them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and
took care of him.The
next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and
said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you
whatever more you spend.’Which
of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into
the hands of the robbers?”He
said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go
and do likewise.”
of us have heard the story of the Good Samaritan. A man on a
trip was waylaid by robbers who left him for dead, presumably
stealing anything he was carrying of value. He lay on the side of
the road and was avoided by a priest and a Levite. Then another
stranger happened along, and he “was moved with pity”, bandaged
the man's wounds, put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn
and tended him, then paid for his care.
There are a huge number of things that
could be said about this parable, a huge array of angles at which to
view how Jesus answered the question “who is my neighbor?” I
want to focus on the “why”. WHY would the good Samaritan go out
of his way to help this stranger who was busted and bleeding on the
road? Asking why might seem a little silly to us – but we do not
live in those times. In those times, someone who was on the side of
the road may have been luring a gentle hearted person into a trap so
that HE could be waylaid by robbers. In those times, contact with a
dead body was considered to be defiling, so the priest and the Levite
may have assumed the man was dead and avoided him in order to not be
WHY did he help this man? Jesus says
a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he
was moved with pity.”
he saw him, he was moved with pity.” Jesus tells the story of a
Samaritan helping a man on the road not because the Samaritan
expected something in return, but because he was moved with pity at
seeing the broken man's plight. He didn't expect anything in
return....he simply helped the man because it was the right thing to
patience is persistent love in the face of adversity...
If kindness is
seeing ourselves in others and responding accordingly...
generosity is giving persistent love to everyone without
expecting anything in return.
is about attitude.
go back to the Good Samaritan. Presumably he was on his way to
something as well if he was traveling on the road. Presumably he had
a number of things he'd rather do, a number of other ways he'd rather
use his resources. Yet he stopped and helped without expecting a
is just what God does with us! He sees us broken and on the side of
the road, wounded, bleeding, being passed over by others who can't
trouble themselves with our plight. He bathes our wounds, sets us up
on his ride, and brings us to healing. As he does, so he wants us to
why is this story in Luke? A
scholar named Mark Allan Powell put together a book about the
Gospels. In one of his chapters on Luke, he states that:
“Luke wants to
show his readers what God accomplishes through the lives of ordinary
people to heighten their expectations of what God might accomplish
through them. Luke wants his readers to believe that the possibility
of God's will being accomplished in their lives an in the world is
greater than they imagine.”
God works generosity through ordinary people. He shows his
persistent, abundant love to people through ordinary people just like
you and me.
This is me and my parents. Most of you
know that I grew up in a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan forest,
surrounded by trees and bears. Now, I mean “cabin”....Lincoln
log style, one-room structure that flexed during earthquakes and kept
us snug as bugs in rugs during the winter. Unfortunately, logs are
rather flammable. When I was 9 years old, our cabin went up in
flames in the middle of the night...of course in the middle of
winter! Thankfully, we had some other structures on the property and
we spent the night in one of those other structures. The next
morning, my dad had to spend some time getting our snow machine
working again because it had been parked close enough to the cabin
that the side melted in a little bit. Once it was working, he went
to town to let people know what had happened and to get help.
He came back with some food and
supplies, the mail, and John.
Now, John is a man whom Dad had just
met when he went to town for help. John was a man whom Dad had heard
people whispering about, about what a “no good” he was, how no
one trusted him, etc. People avoided him. Dad saw him, took pity on
him, and took him to our house so that we could help him.
Wait a minute Dad, we just had a
house fire...we lost everything....and you come home with someone who
help? Surely someone else can help him!
I think it was my Mom who pointed out to Dad that we had just lost
everything, how could we help someone? Dad said we had another
structure on the property where John could stay, and he gave the same
answer he gave every time he helped someone and others asked why -
“it's all God's anyways.”
Dad often has the attitude of true generosity. It
is all God's anyways.
He saw John in an hour of John's desperate need, and he put him on
our snow machine and brought him home with us that we might tend him
and help him, without expecting a single thing from him in return. I
now call John “brother”.
is true generosity. True
generosity is seeing Jesus in the reflection and responding with
compassion, using “our resources” to tend the cares of those in
need freely and abundantly without expecting anything in return.
Imagine you are
homeless and being served at a soup kitchen. There are three dishes:
peas, potatoes, and chicken. The peas are being served by a middle
aged woman who is well to-do, who is there because she wants another
feather in her social cap. The potatoes are being served by another
middle aged woman, but she is there because she got in trouble with
the law and has to be there to serve community service, or her parole
officer is going to report her and she will likely be incarcerated
again. The chicken is being served by a woman who wants to be there,
who truly loves people who are homeless and wants to help. Where
does true generosity live? Which station would be your favorite?
BUT HOW? WHAT DO
generous – help anyone in need without expecting anything in
return. Dahmon and I have often helped out our friends
financially. We used to say that our tithing was in the form of
helping friends when they were in need. Recently a friend whom we
helped out came into some financial stability, and talked about
“paying us back”, and was totally shocked when I said “you
don't owe us anything.”
We are to be
generous because it is simply the right thing to do, not because we
will get something in return. If we are expecting anything in
return, we are doing it for the wrong reasons, with the wrong
attitude. The expected return doesn't have to come from the person
whom we have aided. Sometimes we expect returns from those around
that person, or from society for being “such a good person”.
But we are to do
good things such that the left hand does not know what the right hand
is doing (Matthew 6:3). Such that we are storing up treasure in
Heaven, not here on Earth.
This is not to say
that acknowledging the good someone has done is a bad thing.
Certainly, that is not what I'm saying at all. In a world where
darkness would squelch whatever light shines, it is not bad to
acknowledge good things. By all means, extend thanks and support
when you see someone or an organization that is being generous.
The point is that
our generosity must not come from a place of “look at me, I did
XYZ”, hence getting our reward here on Earth. It must come from a
place of recognizing ourselves and Jesus in our neighbors and
persisting in tending their needs, using our resources to love and
help our neighbors as God has loved and helped us – freely and
abundantly and without an expectation of returns. Just as the good
Samaritan did with the man he saw on the road. Just as God does with
is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is
not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily
angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)
Sermon Scripture: 1
was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphitefrom the hill
country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of
Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.He had two
wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other
Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now
this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to
sacrifice to the Lord
hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were
priests of the Lord.On
the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife
Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters;but
to Hannah he gave a double portion,because
he loved her, though the Lord
closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate
her, because the Lord
closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up
to the house of the Lord,
she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.
Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do
you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten
Ah, patience. As you may know, Dahmon
and I have been traveling through a series on the 9 fruits of the
Spirit as listed by Paul in Galatians. Last week Dahmon spoke on
peace. We've also discussed joy and love. This week we move to
Patience. Authors in the New Testament
have a habit of using Old Testament figures as examples for patience
(James cites Job, for example), and we shall do the same here. In
the Scripture reading for today, we read about Elkanah.
Now, Elkanah was a man with two wives:
Hannah and Peninnah. Here we find him and his family during their
yearly pilgrimage to the temple in Shiloh to offer worship and
offerings to the Lord. According to the Scripture, Hannah was the
picture of dejection and miserableness because she was barren.
Peninnah, after all, had “sons and daughters”, and delighted in
lording them over Hannah – the text says she provoked Hannah
Children in that time were status and
assurance for the future. Being barren threatened Hannah's very life
for two major reasons. 1) Under the law of the time, Elkanah could
legally divorce her for not bearing him sons and fulfilling her role
as a woman, and 2) if Elkanah were to die suddenly, Hannah would have
no male to support her. For Elkanah's part, he had no male heir from
Hannah, which was disastrous for his part of the family tree.
Anyways, Hannah was miserable because
she could not bear children. To rub salt in an already open wound,
the fact that Hannah's name is listed first when the wives are
mentioned likely means that she was Elkanah's first wife. Though
polygamy was not uncommon during their time, some scholars think it
is likely that Elkanah took Peninnah as a wife after Hannah proved
unable to bear him sons.
And bear him sons Peninnah did...but
where did that leave Hannah?
Miserable. Not eating. Weeping.
Worrying Elkanah, who responded to her in love despite the fact that
she could not bear him sons and despite the fact that she was surely
hard to be around.
Poor Elkanah! Surely his was not a
peaceful life, as one of his wives was constantly dejected and
lamenting her condition, while the other was gloating and being
difficult to the other! Imagine what his home life must have been
like – this is like living with sibling rivalry to a whole new
Yet he responded to Hannah with nothing
but a love that went against the divorce that his culture said would
have been perfectly permissible...even expected. Scripture says
Elkanah would do his level best to show Hannah how much he loved her:
when he was doling out special portions of a particular food,
he gave twice as much to Hannah as he gave to Peninnah. He tries to
encourage her to eat, to not be so sad. He loves her so much! He
even asks her if he isn't worth as much to her as ten sons,
indicating that she is such to him. It seems like he did this every
He loved her dearly and showed it
despite the fact that she was barren in a society where being barren
did not mean whole. Where being barren was grounds for divorce.
Elkanah is the one at whom we are
looking today as an example of patience.
What do you think about when you
hear the word “patience”?
Patience is often defined as “the
capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without
getting angry or upset.” Patience
is enduring under difficult circumstances, exhibiting self-control
and calm in the face of distress and/or waiting for something.
In this context, patience was Elkanah loving Hannah through
the difficult situation and showing her that love despite her
less-than-whole societal status in a society that said he could ditch
her with no repercussions for not giving him sons.
Isn't this what God does?
Despite all of our shortcomings,
despite us constantly demanding and requesting things of God in the
midst of our despair, despite society saying that we are not whole,
or somehow unclean, or not worth love and patience, despite our
abundant impatience, despite all of this God says “I love you and
let me show you how!”
God responds to us in love when the
world says He shouldn't.
What if part of patience, not all of it
– but part of it, is exactly that: responding to a situation in
love rather than frustration when the world gives you every right be
frustrated. “The fruit of the Spirit is patience.” Part of the
fruit of the Spirit is responding to a difficult situation in an
unexpected way, one saturated with love and grace and lacks impulsive
reactions that we later regret.
I have a younger brother named Daniel.
I love him dearly, but he tries my patience...and don't siblings
(spouses, friends, children) know just exactly how to push our
buttons to try our patience!
A few years back, my parents were
living in Arizona. My brother and I decided to drive down there from
MN to visit them for Christmas. It was a great drive...but when you
put two people in a car together for several days and add a flat
tire, patience wears thin! On our drive back home (which took 3
days), one of our tires was losing air...fast! Whenever we stopped
for gas, we had to add air to the tire. Obviously something was
wrong, but it wasn't until we stopped for the night that we saw the
problem – a nail. We had some fix-a-flat...but then started
arguing over who was going to put it into the tire. I wanted to
because I'd never done so before and wanted to learn a new skill.
Daniel wanted to because he had done so before and he just wanted to
go in the hotel and get some sleep. In a beautiful display of lack
of patience with one another, our argument escalated until we were
screaming at each other and I was literally stamping my foot in
frustration like a three year old having a tantrum. My brother
grabbed the car keys and reared his hand back like he was going to
throw them in the bushes. I grabbed his hand and said “STOP!”....and
Now, people often tell me that I have
infinite patience, but in that moment I was fresh out of it for my
brother. I was tired and angry...so was Daniel. Two people
provoking each other mightily had taken a molehill life circumstance
and turned it into a mountain because we were responding to each
other in anger. Doing so had at that moment robbed us of our love,
joy, peace...and patience. I let go of Daniel's hand and turned
around for a moment to recollect myself, and to pray...for patience.
With God's help, I was then able to face my brother again and explain
why I had gotten angry, apologize, learn from it, and move on.
Eventually we took turns putting in the fix-a-flat, but that wasn't
the point. The point was that we needed to reorient ourselves to God
in the middle of a very frustrating, patience-robbing situation.
Elkanah was in the midst of a
frustrating, patience-robbing situation. One of his wives was
despondent and refused to be comforted despite his best efforts. His
other wife was intentionally being irritating and gloating about her
children. And this was a situation that endured for a long time.
Scripture says “so it went on year after year.” Imagine the
scene – constant bickering, little peace, loud noises!
But what was his response?
Scripture does not say that Elkanah
divorced Hannah for not bearing him sons, which was certainly his
right under Hebrew law at the time. It does not say that he yelled
at the women for arguing. It says that he responded in love. He
responded to a despondent woman by showering her with love instead of
losing his patience. He persevered in showering her with that love -
“so it went on year after year”.
This is one aspect of what Paul is
talking about when he says patience is fruit of the Holy Spirit. The
Holy Spirit working in us is available to help us cultivate the
practice of responding to a difficult situation in love rather than
anger, frustration, etc.
I'm not saying this is easy. Turning
away from my brother and reorienting myself through prayer instead of
clobbering him wasn't easy – and goodness knows I've clobbered him
in the past. I'm sure it wasn't easy for Elkanah to consistently
respond to Hannah in love (at least according to what we know about
him from Scripture).
The key is that patience as fruit of
the Holy Spirit means that it is something that God wants to help us
develop, and that He lives out in us. He is ready to help us show
that persistent love in any situation. Patience is that pause, that
deep breath, the “mommy time-out” to calm down before responding
to a child who has been irksome. Patience is the husband who
responds to his crabby wife not by hiding from her or being crabby in
return, but by listening, hugging, and asking what can be done.
Patience is the love response when the crabby response is easier.
Patience is recognizing that we do not
have to depend solely on our own strength to show persistent love.
We can lean on God, recognizing that He is the source of a love that
defies societal expectations. That is kind of what Jesus is all