#31 Real Love Really Works (29/06/02)

By Robert H. Schuller

My son, Robert, and I are having a wonderful time sharing from what many call the greatest chapter in the Holy Bible. It is I Corinthians 13, the famous love chapter. And my message this morning is from verse 6, "Love rejoices in the truth ..." You can't have love without integrity and you cannot have joy without integrity. "Love rejoices in the truth" and too many young people haven't been adequately exposed to authentic love. You hear the phrase, "let's make love" ... which does not mean "love," it means sensual lust that is secular and not spiritual. Real love really works with joy because it is honest.

I want you to believe in real love today. If you've been a little cynical, this is the place to discover what real love really is. Real love believes in the truth... that you are somebody so you believe in yourself. It believes in the truth that the people around you have talents and abilities. That is the truth and you can begin to love them. And real love teaches you that God is alive and you can feel His presence. That is reality ... real love really works!

One day many years ago, as I was walking through a shopping mall, I saw a big sign, "50% off" in a men's clothing shop. That caught my attention so I went in. (My wife always selects the clothes, I never do.) Men's sport coats were 50% off, so I picked out one which was a beautiful green plaid. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. The clerk came and said, "Yes, that looks perfect on you."

Then I said, "Now, I need a pair of slacks with it."

He said, "Yes, you do." So I saw a pair of light green slacks and I picked them out. But he said, "No, they won't work." I replied, "They're green."

"Yes," he said, "but it's a different color of green."

Oh. So I looked around and saw another pair in my size, a darker green. I pulled it out and held it up, but he said, "No, that doesn't work either."

So I said, "Well, maybe I should try a pair of black pants."

He said, "Black wouldn't work, not with that sport coat." I began to think, maybe he is just downright negative, I don't know. He said, "Let me find a pair for you. If I can't find a pair that works, I won't sell you the coat." He went searching through the entire shop, even in the back storeroom. Then he came back to me and said, "Let me have the coat."

I handed him the coat. He took it and hung it back on the rack. I protested, "What are you doing? I'll buy the coat."

He said, "No you won't. I won't sell it to you because I don't have pants that work with it."

That's a true story. He wouldn't sell it if it did not work. That's integrity!

I'm not selling, but I want to give you something and I wouldn't give it to you if it didn't work. What I'm giving to you is real love. Real love really works. It has truth, integrity and honesty. Let me explain what I mean. There are five words that I use to describe real love. Each word begins with the letter "R":

Love is a reality

There are people who don't think love is real. They are cynical. They say real love is a fantasy. They tried it and they were hurt, disappointed or rejected. The problem, today, is that the word "love" is used so carelessly, crudely, callously, and in such a cavalier way. The word "love" is tragically abused in our world today. But I submit that love is a reality. Allow me to prove it to you: there has been a time in your life, or there will be a time in your life, when you will hug somebody and you won't want to let go. That's real love! Maybe at a funeral, maybe at a christening of a baby ... I don't know, but there will come a time when a tear will roll out of your eye. It's love and that tear is real. It's not hypocritical ... not fake or phony. Love is a reality.

Do you want to live a real life? Real love really works.

I'll never forget the time I was in Chicago, Illinois, switching planes. I had been on a speaking trip and as I went to the gate where my plane would depart I passed a Fannie May chocolate candy store right there in the middle of the terminal. I think it's still there. I don't know. So I went into the store to buy my wife some chocolates. It wasn't very busy. There was one older woman also looking at all the chocolates. The clerk behind the counter said as I came in, "Can I help you?"

I asked, "Do you have a pound of chocolate covered nuts? My wife likes them more than the creams and caramels."

Then the lady customer interrupted and said, "Oh yes, they have one pound boxes of chocolates with nuts. There are chocolate cashews and all kinds of chocolates."

The clerk raised her eyebrow. The older lady kept looking at the boxes, not buying, just looking. So I asked, "Well, my wife's favorite chocolate covered nuts are turtles. They have nuts and caramels. Do you have turtles?"

And again the older woman interrupted, "Yes, they have them also, in one pound boxes."

The clerk began to look uncomfortable and I began to think, "What is this woman doing here? She still is not buying anything." So I paused. Again the older lady said, "They have turtles in three pound boxes, too." And then, before I could answer, she said, "But I'd recommend getting a pound of Colonial Chocolates. There are creams in it, too."

I said, "My wife doesn't like creams."

"Oh," she said,"I think she would like these creams. They're different."

The clerk looked like she was reaching the end of her patience and I certainly was. Then the older woman customer said, "Whoops! I've got to go or I'll miss my plane." She grabbed her handbag and parcel and she was gone. Ohhhh! Were we relieved! Then the clerk behind the counter yelled. "Girls, you can come out now... Fannie May is gone!"

I said, "You must be kidding? Was that ..."

"She is the real Fannie May."

"No kidding?"

"No, I'm not kidding. When Fannie May's husband died he had a candy store. Then as a widow, she decided to keep the candy store. Then she made some more recipes and most of these chocolates here are her recipes."

"Really?"

"Yes, today she has 117 stores all over the country and she travels to all of them, making sure her stores, which she calls her 117 children, are doing good."

Here was the ultimate authority ... and I didn't listen to her. Instead I listened to a clerk.

You want to listen to the ultimate authority on love. The Ultimate Authority is Jesus Christ. I'm just a clerk. You look at the life of Jesus Christ and you will say, "Wow! Love is real! I saw it in Jesus Christ." Love is a reality. Turn off the cynicism. Turn off the secularism. Find a real love that will put a tear in your eye and a hug around you that will never let you go. Just meet Jesus Christ. His love is a reality.

2) Love is relative

You can expect to be disappointed ... maybe hurt ... probably rejected. The cynics have become cynics because their love was not returned or somebody wasn't honest with them. "Love rejoices in the truth..." That's why Jesus' love is so real. Jesus is truth. "I am the way, the truth ..."The truth about God ... the truth about life ... the truth about heaven ... the truth about forgiveness ... the truth about salvation. Jesus is the truth. Love is relative. Don't expect to be 100% satisfied in your marriage or in your relationships. My wife and I have disagreements, but we don't expect the other person to be perfect.

1) Love is a reality ... 2) Love is relative ... and ...
3) Love is risky

You expose yourself. You're vulnerable. You make a commitment. You put an investment of your emotional self into a relationship, but you may not be receiving adequate reimbursement. And you say, "I've put a lot more into it than he or she does." Yes. Just understand love rejoices in the truth and the truth is ...relationships are always risky. But ...

4) Love is redeemable

Risky and you lost it? You say you lost your love? Only you can say that. It is not lost until you totally walk away from every portion of it. Part of it you will keep. It is not totally lost. It is redeemable ... because at the heart of real love there is forgiveness! Love is redeemable. Forgiveness is possible in the worst scenes.

5) Love is religious

This means that love is spiritual. The love that makes you want to hug somebody and never let go is a spiritual emotion. The love that puts tears in your eyes when the bride kisses the groom as the wedding march is played ... that's spiritual. The love that lets the tears flow out of your eyes when you say goodbye to someone in a casket ... that's spiritual. The love that makes you want to pick up that little toddler a year and a half old and hug him or her. That emotion is spiritual! Not sensual ... not generated by any gland in the body ...but by the heart.

Real love is spiritual. That is why I want you to remember Fannie May, the real authority. I didn't pay attention to her. And lots of you don't pay attention to the real authority, Jesus Christ. When you read books on spirituality or New Age, or when you read words from preachers like Schuller, or others, you are just dealing with clerks! Deal with the authority on love, Jesus Christ. Real love is spiritual ... it's religious!

Real love really works -
1) Love is a reality. Yes it is. It is the ultimate reality.

2) Love is relative. Sure, but it's not perfect!

3) Love is risky. Anything that is worth so much is.

4) Love is redeemable. It is never lost. You always keep something that came from it. It has forgiveness.

5) Love is religious. It is spiritual. "Love rejoices in the truth ..."

I've given you the truth. I'm not selling a suit. I'm giving you life. Meet Jesus Christ. He is the expert. Let us pray.

Thank You, Lord, for the good happenings in my life ... for the word of truth in the Bible. Thank You, Jesus Christ, that You approach me to forgive me and to tell me that my Heavenly Father wants to forgive me. God wants to find me, a lost and weary child, to save me. Hallelujah. Amen.


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