The Joy of
By Dr. Robert
All of you should be
very happy today because you've received so many gifts. It's fantastic.
Stop and think what you've received. Freely you have received,
Jesus said. Freely you've received. Just stop and think in this
century alone. In 1912 Americans had no Federal Reserve. How's
that grab you? No investment counselors; no mutual funds; no vitamin
tablets; no refrigerators. I'll get your attention: no, no television,
no transistors, no lasers, no nuclear energy, no computers, no
"www's." Who could have imagined what changes we would experience
and see in our century alone? Jesus said, "Greater works than
I do shall you do." Wow!
In 1912, Emil von Vehring
produced an effective immunization against diphtheria and tetanus.
In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolated the hormone
insulin. 1928, Fleming discovered penicillin. In 1929 Hans Berger
developed the encephalograph. Wow! The list goes on. Wow! Jonas
Salk, I knew him. I knew the guy. 1954, he developed the first
effective polio vaccine. In 1967 Christian Barnard performed the
first successful heart transplant. Wow! The list goes on and on
and on. And all of us alive today, sitting in this place, listening
to the sound of this voice, are beneficiaries of lives that were
passionate, possibility focused, inventive, creative, and we are
living longer lives today because of what's been given to us,
given to us. "Freely you have received," Jesus said, "freely give."
So, we are happier people today, more joyous, because we are the
recipients of gifts, but now understand this, you have something
to give. Maybe you know what it is. And maybe you've not discovered
it. Maybe you've put yourself down insignificantly but guess where
you are? You are in a place that's called a church, the Crystal
Cathedral. And if you're watching this on television in Vietnam
or Russia or I don't know where, for God only knows who you are,
where you are, by listening, tuning in, you are emotionally joining
us, with millions of others in a place called a church. And what
is our message? Our message is that everybody has something to
give that's worth a lot. Everybody has something they can lay
on the table. What do you have to lay on the table?
Frank Freed who headed
our counseling ministry and heads it yet today, had a wonderful
idea. He and Evelyn wanted to give a gift of a "smiling Jesus"
and so they commissioned the sculptor who prepared the Smiling
Jesus and you've all seen it. It's larger than life, it's bronze
and it captures the story of the Bible with two little children
that come and this one child has five loaves and two fishes and
Jesus needs to feed the people and the child offers them to Jesus.
Strange, miraculous, astonishing. The child was willing to be
so generous and he gave all that he had. And then, another wonderful
friend of this ministry gave us a beautiful sculpture by Mehri
Danielpour who did the Shaw of Iran and his family, a wonderful
artist from Iran capturing the "Widow's Mite." Here's the widow
who gave everything she had, two coins and that bronze statue
is here at the front entrance of this church. It's beautiful.
Genuine antique mites are in her hand. She's giving all that she
had. The boy gave all that he had, the fish and so intrinsic,
systemic in the Christian faith and life is this principle of
giving, giving, giving. And it produces so much joy in the giver
and I want to analyze why is it. Why does giving make people so
happy? You can't find a religion in the world. It's true. You
can't find any religion in the world that generates so much energy
in what could only be psychologically described as levels and
levels of joy like the Christian faith. I know the faiths. I respect
them all, but there is no faith that generates joy like Christianity.
Why not? Because you tap into the mathematics of Jesus. What does
this mean? He adds power, he adds friends, he adds faith and he
adds a lot of what you call lucky breaks.
He subtracts weaknesses,
shortfalls, limitations, and you get by with so much less. So
much better than others with more, don't have. He adds, he subtracts,
he divides the difficulties, the problems, the pains, and others
pick up part of it. He adds, subtracts, divides, he multiplies
the possibilities, even the possibilities that come out of your
Yes, giving is at the
heart of our faith. It was at the heart of the philosophy of Jesus.
He was a giver, giver, giver, not a getter, getter, getter. And
there are two basic kinds of people, the givers and the getters.
In Matthew 10, verse
8, Jesus issued a profound sentence that I've never preached on
before. "Freely," he said, "you have received."
Oh. Now, he said,
"Freely give." If you want the joy of living, know how to receive,
but then know how to give. "Freely," he said, "you have received."
What does that mean?
There isn't a single person in this room who asked to be born.
You didn't pick out your father, your mother. You didn't pick
out the genes and the chromosomes. You were given the gift of
life. The most precious gift God could give, he gave to everybody.
We've got to stop and
think what have we received so freely. You didn't ask to be born
and you were born in this time in this century. You can have health
care, longer life, like you never believed. Freely you have received.
Now freely give.
You'll begin to experience
the joy that passes all expectations. Joy produces... the joy
of giving produces greater pleasure than any of the other joys.
I tried to analyze it from a psychological and philosophical and
theological perspective. I made some notes. What does giving do
First of all you are
tapping into memories that have been lying there untouched. When
you present a gift to a person or to an institution or to God
or to Jesus or to this church, you are recalling, recollecting,
remembering something wonderful and beautiful that has happened
or is happening. And to an overwhelming degree an average day
is made up of moods that have been shaped by memories. And if
you want to tap into subconscious memories that you haven't recalled,
buy a gift for someone or for something.
Number two. You tap
into that emotional energy called Thanksgiving. It's impossible
to be thankful and not experience some joy.
Third, you move into
the realm of what we call positive fantasizing. The human brain
is created so that we have the capacity to imagine, which is a
form of fantasizing. Enthusiastic imagination. Oh. And when you
are presenting the gift you think, oh what is that going to do?
How is it going to help? That generates joy. The joy of giving
generates generosity in personality and character. Every body
has a reputation and so do you. It may be a reputation for generosity
and it may be a reputation for something quite the opposite. Ultimately
what do people think of you? All of the funerals I've had, the
one that I can still can't get over, he was a well known man in
Orange County, very successful, made a lot of money in the stock
market and that was no secret. He died suddenly of a heart attack
and I had his funeral. And I got there, no one else had arrived,
and I waited and it came time and nobody was there and the mortician
said to me, "Well, let's go." I said, "Nobody's here." I mean
nobody. Not one person in that chapel. Peak Mortuary Chapel, it
was called. I said, "He's got three sons. They all live here."
He said, "I know, but
let me tell you something, Schuller, one of the sons called and
ordered the funeral. Another one said 'we bought a plot for him,
it's in Fairhaven Cemetery.' They said, 'we'll take care of the
expenses, don't worry, but we're not coming. When we were alive
he never had time for us.'" Period.
Nobody came to the
funeral. He had money. He had power. He had a name. And he had
Oh. The joy of giving
is you generate generosity. You become known as a very generous,
caring, philanthropic, wonderful person and you don't give just
to your church. Hopefully you give your tithe, the full ten percent
where you go to church, but you give more than that. You maybe
give 15 - 20 percent and you remember other great causes.
And if you're a generous
person you're surrounded by generous people. You have no idea
how that will change your life.
Oh, you see in the
process you are honoring people when you give them a gift. You're
honoring this church or this institution when you bring your tithes
and offerings. But in the process you Freudian slip and honor
yourself. And you'll end up with self-esteem and pride.
Wow. Why does giving
generate such joy? I think one of the last things I want to say
is you'll learn through it all. Win-win. Enough is enough.
Have you learned that?
I know lots of people that haven't. I feel so sorry for people
who are not poor, they are rich and some are very rich and some
are super-super wealthy. They've never learned when enough is
enough. You can't eat it, you'll get fat. You can't sleep it.
You can't wear it all. You can't go every place you want to and
you can't take it with you and all around you in your life there
are people that are hurting, that are hungry. There are people
that are lost and wanting to commit suicide and there are ministries
that are trying to save these lost souls and they need help.
O God, the joy of giving
is knowing that you are making a difference where you are, where
it really counts, and you're not doing it for honor or fame. You're
doing it because you're driven by a passion and passion is spelled
C-H-R-I-S-T. Christ makes the difference. Freely you have received
so much, freely now, give.
I don't know her, but
her story has been made famous in America. Joyce Roach, if I pronounced
the name right, coordinator of organ donations of the Indiana
Organ Procurement organization. Get that. That's very important.
Knows a lot about organ transplants. Read in the story in the
paper about a kid in Minnesota, 13 years old, that is going to
die unless he got a kidney and there was no kidney for him. And
then the thought struck her, well I've got two. I can give him
one of mine. She's one of the first persons ever to think of donating
a kidney to a total stranger in another state. And his family
couldn't believe it. Well, everything happened. It was all carried
out. And she said, "I just feel that I'm doing what Jesus teaches.
That is give yourself, give yourself and you'll receive more than
you can ever hope for."
That's what drove her.
Jesus Christ. Oh and the surgery was finished, the media was there,
everybody was there and she came out and she met the young boy.
And she had tears in her eyes as he smiled at her and gave her
a special gift. It said, "To my other mom."
The wrap up of the
story I read in the paper said she quotes..she's quoted saying,
"The greatest blessing for me is that for a moment in time I got
to see God's purpose for me. That for me has been a miracle."
Wow. The joy of giving
.. it never stops, because you know your gift is never spent.
It's the seed that continues to bear fruit.
Lord we're making a
difference in the world. Make us joyful givers. Amen.
Now may the Lord bless
you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you. And may God give you peace. Amen.