Live Life At Its Best—Part VIII (25/04/04)
by: Robert A. Schuller
and I are continuing our series of messages on Living
Life at Its Best. And the way you and I can do that is
to allow the Holy Spirit of God to come and fill us with Christ's
spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness,
kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians
I'm going to concentrate on the spirit of
faithfulness. How we all need this gift which is so incredibly
displayed by God. Through the ages God has been and is so faithful
to the world He created. What an incredible gift that God has
given to us. Great is God's faithfulness year after year. And
yet we have a big challenge understanding the faithfulness of
God ... perhaps because society isn’t often faithful to
us. Faithfulness seems to be a lost virtue.
that we have a hard time with this word "faithfulness"
partly because of our consumerism mentality today. It is hard
to be a consumer without just discarding things, isn't it?
I was raised with cloth diapers ... but I raised my children with
disposable diapers (it's much easier!). I was raised with a Brownie
camera ... my kids were raised with Kodak disposable cameras.
We can go down the list. I was raised with writing pens that were
replaced with cartridges ... but today pens are all disposable
when the ink runs out ... in the trash it goes ... discarded!
Has Happened to Faithfulness?
seems that our consumer mentality has affected all society today...
you get what you want out of a product and then you just throw
it away. What has happened to faithfulness?
look at our society today and say that the trend is toward serial
polygamy. They say, "We’re not married to more than
one spouse at a time, just one and then another ... and then another
... serial polygamy. We get what we want out of other people and
then we simply discard them. They're gone
... out of our life.
good news about faithfulness is that God
is faithful to us. I can't tell you how grateful I am that
God continues to fill me with His Holy Spirit. He continues to
give to me and bless me in spite of my shortcomings and my problems.
Because of God’s faithfulness to me, I can live
life at its best!
many of my summers on my Uncle Henry's farm when I was a growing
teen. Uncle Henry is my father’s oldest brother by about
ten years. And the two of them are exact opposites in just about
every way you can imagine. My uncle still has dark hair... I don’t
remember my father not having gray hair. My uncle is tall and
skinny and he can eat a horse and doesn’t gain a pound.
My father is constantly worried about gaining a pound. My uncle
is shy and bashful. He talks very little. He is as quiet as can
be ... but my father is the exact opposite. You can’t get
him to quiet down! You can’t get a word in edgewise. His
mind is racing ahead and he has so much to say and he is wonderful
and entertaining. Meanwhile, my uncle is very thoughtful and meticulous.
The two are like the tortoise and the hare. They don’t look
alike ... they don’t think alike. You would never say they
I spent my summers with my uncle, I saw two completely different
kinds of masculinity and they both had an incredible affect on
me as a human being. I am grateful to have spent so much time
with my uncle. He actually purchased the farm my father was raised
on. There was a large gorge that ran through this farm. The river
had changed course and taken all the dirt away and then when it
changed course, it created a huge island and there were several
acres of soil that could be planted and harvested, but there was
this incredible crevasse which kept them from doing that.
grandfather began filling this large gorge by dumping all of his
trash in that big hole, hoping someday it would be full enough
where they could cross it and start growing crops. Then neighbors
started coming over and asked to use the dump to discard their
trash. Whenever they did, we would run out to the dump and see
what treasures were thrown away. One summer I pulled enough copper
out and I cleaned it and sold it for scrap metal for about fifty
cents a pound ... I made about $300 just pulling out copper. And
I did the same thing with aluminum and other metals. I cleaned
and sold it. Uncle Henry would pick out the electrical appliances,
like toasters, and old lawn mowers taking them all apart, and
saving the electrical motors.
was this ... he said to me, "Robert, 99 percent of the time,
if I save something someone has thrown away I can take it apart,
clean it, put back together again, and it works! Just like new!
They just need a little glue, a little tape, or wire that was
disconnected. I clean it, put it back together and it works."
So we would spend hours tearing apart these treasures and putting
them back together, plugging them in, and have the joy to see
we could make them work again! Now, that’s the way God treats
does not discard us
not discard us when we don’t work anymore. God is faithful.
He picks us up ... He cleans us ... and He puts us back together
again, and then God plugs us into His Holy Spirit and we become
the people that He intended us to be. God is faithful and He does
not reject us just because we are broken. He will create something
new and beautiful with our brokenness. He has made a commitment
to all humanity of His love to us, His people, whom He has created.
"God so loved the word that he sent His only Son, Jesus Christ,
into the world that whosoever believes in Him would not perish
but have everlasting life.
Christ, in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection, was
faithful to God, the Father. And as a result of Christ’s
faithfulness, we have the privilege and honor of receiving the
gifts of His Holy Spirit.
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
of mine is an attorney, named Bill Bennett. I first met Bill about
ten years ago when he invited my wife and me to go to dinner with
him and his wife and attend a Christmas show at the Performing
Arts Center. When my wife and I were driving home, I said to her,
"Did Mrs. Bennett seem a little strange to you?" She
replied, "Yes, there is something that isn’t quite
right." Sometime later I talked with Bill and I asked, "How
is your wife doing? Is everything OK with her?" And he confided
in me that she had a neurological disease, similar to an early
onset dementia or Alzheimer’s. The next year, we went to
the Christmas show together again, and we noticed that she was
much more disconnected than the year before. My wife had to help
her to the restroom. The following year Bill’s wife didn’t
come to the show. Throughout this entire period of many years,
Bill cared for his wife. He loved his wife. He took her on cruises.
He did special things and helped her all the time. He was faithful
to his wife until the day she died. He is a good man.
I am thinking
of another gentleman, whose name is Jack Brown. Jack Brown served
his two terms as a board member of our Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
He is the owner of a local food chain, Stater Bros. As many of
you know, we had a horrible strike in many of our food stores
here in Southern California which lasted for many months. When
that strike was taking place, the employees at Stater Bros. got
together and had a vote whether or not to support that strike.
The result was an unanimous decision not to support the strike.
Do you know why? Because Jack Brown is a man who cares for his
employees. He is faithful to them. He started as a bag boy. He
knows what they are doing. He knows their hard work. Now he owns
employees voted whether or not to keep the stores open during
the strike. Again, the one hundred percent decision was to keep
the stores open. Well, the stores did exceptionally well and Jack
Brown did something that was unprecedented. He gave all the union
worker employees a bonus. It is unheard of in corporate America
today to give union workers bonuses. He is faithful to his employees,
and as a result, his employees are faithful to him ... and that
resulted in a banner year. Everybody wins!
corporate America needs to realize this lesson of faithfulness.
It is not "us" and "them". It is "we."
It is teamwork. It is corporate executives embracing the employees
and saying, "I have faith in you" ... and trusting their
employees to do the same. When this happens, I believe we will
see a major change in corporate America.
the faithfulness of God for us ... when we fail ... when we sin
... He simply takes us apart, washes us to clean us all up, puts
us back together and says, "OK, there, my faithful servant,
go and sin no more." God puts us back together again, for
a purpose and for a reason, and that purpose and that reason is
to be faithful. Faithful to the calling that God has given to
us. If it is to be a minister ... to minister. If it is to be
a doctor ... to doctor. If it is to be a bricklayer, to be the
best bricklayer God has called you to be. If it is to be a housewife,
to care lovingly you’re your husband and your children ...
and the list goes on and on and on. Jesus
Christ is the example of faithfulness for us. Then the
Holy Spirit fills our heart with the faithfulness we need to be
the persons that God has called us to be.
D. Kenneson is a professor of theology and philosophy at Mulligan
College in Tennessee. In his book entitled "Life on the Vine:
Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community"
 he suggests that we each have a faithfulness quotient. Here
is how it works. Make a lit of people to whom you are committed,
the people and the societies to which you have made a commitment.
If you are a member of the church, put that down. If you are a
member of Rotary, list that. If you’re a member of the Soroptimist
Club, put that down. If you have friendships that you are committed
to, your spouse, your children, you put those all down. Then next
to your commitment list, make a list of all of the individuals,
persons, and places that you can count ... you can depend on when
you need help, when you need someone to support you, when you
go through a tough time. And then you compare those two lists,
side by side. More times than not, you’re going to discover
that the two lists are about the same length and if you don’t
feel like that list of people you can count on is long enough,
you have to look at the list of people to whom you are committed.
Maybe it is time for you to consider joining the church. Maybe
it is time for you to make a commitment to God and, in faith,
trusting Him and think about tithing. Maybe it is time for you
to start thinking about your commitment and your faithfulness
to your spouse and to your family and to your friends. Maybe it
is time for you to call upon the Holy Spirit of God to empower
you, to cleanse you, to make you whole.
Faithfulness is one of the beautiful gifts of God that gives us
the power to live life at its best!
Father, I thank You that You are a gracious, loving, good God,
that You have empowered and strengthened me. You have washed and
cleansed me. You have repaired me. You have made me whole. And
so I thank You for Your faithfulness, for Your Son, Jesus Christ,
who simplifies this incredible faithfulness and for Your Holy
Spirit who empowers me. So give me, O Lord, the thankful heart
to respond to You and say "yes" to You. I love You Lord.