#140 (01/08/04)
Love Is Kind

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Dr. Os Guinness
He is author of this fabulous book entitled, "Long Journey Home: A Guide in Your Search for the Meaning of Life." He writes for more than 30 years experience on presenting the case for faith in countless settings on several continents. He was born in China during WW II and educated in England. He did undergraduate studies at the University of London and postgraduate work at the Oriel College Oxford where he earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in social sciences. Formerly a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and Visiting Fellow at the Bookings Institution, Os is currently a Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum in McLean Virginia. He is a highly respected thinker and communicator .

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" Peace Like a River "
" Love Lifted Me "

" Lord, You Have Been our Dwelling Place "
" The Majesty & Glory of Your Name ”

ORGAN SOLO – J. CHRISTOPHER PARDINI – “Toccata on Amazing Grace”
TRIO – ZOEGIRL – “Here and Now”

Acticle of The Message

Today we begin a new series of messages about love. We will be looking at the various aspects of love that appears in I Corinthians 13, the chapter on love. According to Jesus Christ, the key ingredient of the spiritual world is a thing called love ... St. Paul tells us:

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is LOVE."
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

There was a teacher that asked the students to list what they considered the most beautiful seven wonders of the world. Many of the students turned in their lists and included the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, the great Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the Acropolis in Athens. One young person was feverishly writing and the teacher asked her to turn in her paper. She responded, "I'm not ready yet."

Her teacher said, "Why? There are seven great wonders to choose from."

The student responded, "There are so many wonderful things, I just don't know which seven to choose." Her teacher asked her to share her thoughts so the class could help her narrow down her list. She shared what she felt were the most beautiful things in the world ... "to touch ... to see ... to feel ... to hear ... to speak ... to cry ... and ... to love."

Everyone was silent because they realize the greatest things in this world are not "things" like monuments and cathedrals ... but the greatest things in this world are the intangible ... the emotions and the spirit. We all know that the spiritual world is far more wondrous and grandeur than we can ever begin to comprehend.

In I Corinthians 13, St. Paul shares with us all the attributes of love and we have printed them on the bottom of our summer partner's gift, a beautiful tea set. On the bottom of the teapot it says, "The greatest of these is love." Each piece shares what love is ... "Love endures" ... "Love believes" ... "Love rejoices" ... "Love never fails" ... "Love is patient" ... "Love is kind."

This morning I want to share with you an acrostic I wrote to help you understand and follow the outline of kindness ... love is kind. It is very simple.

K - knowledge. We have to know and have an understanding of where there is a need. We have to be understanding of others. So it begins with knowledge of others and continues with...

I - investment. In order for us to be kind it requires us to make an investment of time ... money ... or energy.

N - need fulfillment. Where we actually find a need and fill it. And finally ...

D - decision to act, to actually do something.

Love is kind - Knowledge ... Investment ... Need ... Decision - but it starts with knowledge.

I have a little nephew - a toddler in diapers - who is very fast! Sometimes he comes to spend the day or a night with us, which is both fun and exhausting. Our youngest child is now 14 and our house is no longer childproof ... so we have to go running after my nephew keeping him from harm and destruction! Everything is "mine" - his favorite word. This is a completely normal part of being a child. There does come a time in life when we need to grow up - to realize that everything is not just for us. There are other people in this world that have needs and we are no longer able to be just a consumer, but we need to be a contributor.

There is a cute Winnie the Pooh cartoon where Pooh comes to a river and there is Eeyore out in the water. Eeyore is always negative and sad. They have this conversation about the water being cold and dangerous. Eeyore is sinking. As Pooh starts to walk away, Eeyore calls out for help. The amazing part of this story is the fact that while Pooh is having a conversation with Eeyore he never realizes that Eeyore is need of rescue. He is like a little toddler in his own world ... totally oblivious to the needs around him.

In order for us to fulfill God's commandment to be "kind" we need to have an awareness of others - to take the blinders off and see the needs around us.

I studied Greek for many years - I had a real challenge with foreign languages. I knew that I was going into seminary and Greek was required so I started taking Greek in college. I took my first class as a sophomore and in true form, I had difficulty - but after my first semester my professor was very kind and gave me a passing grade. The next semester I signed up for the next available Greek class. In class, my teacher pulled me aside and said, "Robert, what are you doing here. You're not prepared for this class. I was kind and I gave you a passing grade so you would leave." I explained to him that although I was having a difficult time with foreign languages I needed to have Greek for seminary. He sat down with me a couple of hours a week and he tutored me. I continued to study Greek and now my Greek knowledge is pretty proficient.

It is interesting that in Greek, the word for "kindness" is "Chrestos." What does that sound like to you? Do you know Latin? It is the same word in Latin as it is in Greek, "Chrestos." It is the word "Christ" and pronounced the same. There is only one letter difference - the difference between an "E" and an "I." When people in the Greek community would go and introduce themselves as a Christian the people would hear the words, "a person of kindness." Not understanding who Christ was or anything about the Hebraic understanding of Christ of being totally different, they would simply hear the words, "a person of kindness."

Today when we look at the understanding of "love is kind" we realize that in order for us to be the person God has called us to be - a representative, an ambassador for Christ - we must first and foremost be kind. This requires that we look beyond ourselves... we need to grow up and become mature and look beyond our own needs wants and desires.

About five years ago somebody gave me the book, "Random Acts of Kindness." It isn't written by one individual but it is dedicated to Ann Herbert, a woman that started the movement of kindness. In the book are stories of different people who have contributed a random act of kindness. That's what the Christian spirit is all about ... doing a random act of kindness. This requires an investment of time, money or energy.

The easiest act of kindness is giving money. I heard of a man walking through a mall when he saw a group of young people who were handicapped gathered in front of the toy store. The young boys and girls were looking at the toys oooing and ahhing. He went up to the director of the group and pulled out a hundred dollar bill and said, "Here, would you let the young people go in and buy a toy." And he walked away ... nameless, unidentified ... truly a random act of kindness.

It's an investment of time ... money ... or energy. Money is the easiest. Time is most difficult. You see somebody who is in serious need and you take the time to help them. You have things planned for the day. You have to be at work - you have to do this - you have to do that - and suddenly because someone is in need, you stop and take the time to help - your very precious time. How do you count the value of a day? How do you count the value of time? ... and you simply give it to someone else.

Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law," he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "'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, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." (Luke 10:25-28)

The man asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus responds by telling the story of the Good Samaritan who came upon the man who had been robbed and beaten and had compassion on him and helped him. (Luke 10:30-37)

Love is kind. It's an awareness, a knowledge that there are other people besides ourselves in this world. It is an investment of our time, money or energy. It is a need fulfillment where you find the need and you actually fulfill it.

Years ago I read a very profound and insightful article on altruistic behavior. It said that altruistic behavior is an impossibility. The understanding of being altruistic means that you do something with absolutely no intention of any personal return. That's the whole understanding of being altruistic. These random acts of kindness are an attempt at altruistic behavior, where we do something simply and solely for the purpose of doing something good. The article went on to say it is really impossible to do that because when you give in such a manner, you get the most incredible wonderful feeling. It is so beautiful and wonderful it is worth anything ... and as a result of receiving back for that gift of giving ... it is no longer altruistic.

We need to find places and things and institutions and people for giving. We need to give because we need to give. And then what happens? I call it healthy pride. A pride where we feel that we have done something ... we have accomplished something. It is an emotion that gives us a sense of accomplishment and well being that God has used us to help others.

Twenty years ago Hazel Wright gave this ministry a million dollars for our beautiful organ. Altruistic gift? Absolutely. She hasn't received a penny in return for that gift. But she received the joy of giving - she has her name on it. Altruistic? Absolutely not. It is impossible to give without receiving. That is one of the reasons God tells us to give because He wants us to be able to feel that pride of giving. He wants us to feel the joy of being a contributor to society instead of being a consumer of society. He wants us to feel like we are people of worth and value ... and we get that over and over again every time we just give a little. There are many different ways we can give.

One of the funniest stories I ever heard on altruistic behavior was one done by my father. He was Christmas shopping with my mother in Laguna Beach. He noticed a parking enforcement officer going through the city writing tickets. Being Christmas, he felt really bad because he saw so many cars with meters that had run out. So he ran and put quarters in all the meters, saving these people from receiving a ticket. That was his random act of kindness. Just recently we discovered that all of the people who live in Laguna Beach are encouraged to buy parking stickers for their cars and they do not have to put quarters in the meter. It took us twenty years to find out that when my father went up and down the street putting quarters in the meters, some of those cars really didn't need those quarters.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to be kind - to be a Christian. We were never told it was going to be easy. It is not the easiest thing in the world to give, but with a little thought, a little sincerity and a little hope we can give. Even if the recipient doesn't receive it - you receive the benefits. The greatest benefit of all goes to the giver as God shapes your heart and your soul and creates the person that you are intended to be, as love truly is kind.

I'm going to conclude with a short poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, entitled "The World's Needs."

"So many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind while just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs."

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have given us this beautiful gift of love. As we continue to use this gift to be the persons that you have called us to be - to be Christlike - to be kind ... revealing to us the persons who need our touch. Reveal to us, O God, so that we might be able to invest of ourselves and we might be able to fulfill needs, and help us to make the decision to act. Give us an idea of something that is going to touch somebody who needs to be touched in a very special way. We may never know all the implications or understand all of the ripples of the wave that is created because we did something nice for somebody. Now we thank You, Lord. Amen.


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