#303 - Message- Live Life At Its Best V- Kindness (16/09/07)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Music

Hymn
" Blessed be the Name "

Anthem
" Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus "

Solo
QUARTET – POINT OF GRACE – “Blue Skies”
SOLO – MARY WELCH ROGERS – “This Much”
INSTRUMENTAL – HOUR OF POWER ORCHESTRA – “Variations on ‘Duke Street’”

The Message

Message by Robert A . Schuller

My father and I are going through a series of messages on Galatians 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit. The title of this series of messages is, "Live Life at Its Best." In order for us to live life at its best, we have to understand the gifts that are available to us through the Holy Spirit of God. The fruit of the Spirit, as found in Galatians, are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Today, we continue this series of messages by focusing our attention on kindness. In Ephesians 4 we read the following words,

"Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, as Christ has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32)

These are great words to live by. As Christ has forgiven you, be kind to one another. What does it really mean to be kind to one another? I believe this passage gives us a fabulous line for understanding the kindness of God. "Be kind to one another, compassionate and forgiving." Kindness begins with simply having a neighborly feeling toward everyone you meet. Treat everyone as though they're your next door neighbor.

When I think of kindness, I canˇ¦t help but think of the late Fred Rogers of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" fame. I can't imagine a human being who exemplified kindness more than Mr. Rogers. "Pease won't you be my neighbor?" was his line each and every program, wasn't it? The perfect expression of kindness.

Wordsworth said that kindness was best defined by the following: "The best portion of a person's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." Isn't that wonderful?

This past summer my family and I traveled to Zimbabwe, Africa as part of a missions trip. Our objective was to distribute wheelchairs to the needy in connection with a wonderful organization called the Wheelchair Foundation. This trip was probably one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. When we arrived at one remote village, a group of about 150 individuals, none of whom could walk, were driven to our location on a flatbed truck. When the truck stopped, the family members of the lame began to lift each one off the truck and basically placed them on the dirt road. One by one they each person was lifted off, and placed onto the dirt road.

By that time I had stepped forward to help and was handed a young man who must have weighed only 50 pounds because he didn't have any arms or legs. He was just a torso. Then as I looked into the eyes of this young man he smiled, and I just didn't have the heart to simply put him on the ground with the others. Instead, I decided to carry him to the wheelchair that we'd brought for him, which was on the other side of a long footbridge, about a half a mile away. By the time I got to where the wheelchairs were I thought my arms were going to fall off. When I finally placed him into his new wheelchair, I'll never forget the smile he gave to me in return. At that point language did not matter, I felt the love flow from this simple act of kindness. Then I turned around and I saw my two daughters following along behind me. They couldn't put down the elderly woman they were helping either, so they had joined arms and cradled her in order to help her across the bridge to bring her to her chair. Now the woman they were carrying was a leper who basically had stubs for hands and stubs for feet and her nose was half gone. Her skin was flaking away. As I turned to see my daughters carrying this elderly woman across the bridge, my eyes filled with tears of joy. My children had seen an example to follow, and had chosen the path of kindness.

Likewise Christ calls everyone to follow His example, and we must remember that He doesn't ask us for anything that He wouldn't do Himself a hundred times over. "Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven you." Be neighborly to all. Show compassion to the hurting. Love in action is faith at work. The world could definitely use a little more compassion.

I recently had dinner with a man by the name of Bill Austin. Bill Austin is at the forefront when it comes to hearing aids. In fact, there isnˇ¦t a person of significance in the United States who needs a hearing aid that that doesn't have one of Bill's. From major politicians to entertainers, if you need a hearing aid, you call Bill Austin. He is the best. At dinner, Bill reminded me of a story he told when he was here last year about a woman in Los Angeles that he was fitting with an extremely expensive hearing aid. The reason for the expense was that this particular hearing aid completely disappears into the ear canal, and cannot be seen. In addition, if this hearing aid does not fit absolutely perfectly, it will not work. Well, Bill went to fit his client with this hearing aid, when he discovered that the instrument didn't quite fit the way he wanted it to, Bill simply looked at his client and said, "You can't have these, I'll have to make you another set." And with that put them in his pocket and left.

Now Bill Ausin's avocation is to travel the world giving away hearing aids to those who could never otherwise afford one. About a month after he left Beverly Hills with those expensive hearing aids in his pocket, Bill found himself in Mexico fitting children with hearing aids. All of a sudden, his father-in-law said, "Hey Bill, what should we do to help this little girl?" Bill looked up and there stood a little girl who didn't have any ears. All she had was a tiny little hole where the ear should have been. Bill simply smiled, reached into his pocket and pulled out that very expensive hearing aid and said, "I wonder if this one will fit." He tried it out and each one fit like a glove. It was a miracle come true for that one little girl who was able to hear for the first time in her life. Nothing will take you farther in this world than a simple act of kindness.
The third element to living out kindness in your life is forgiveness. In the book of Romans, Paulˇ¦s letter to the church in Rome, states,

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position and not be conceited." (Romans 14-17)

The movie, "The Passion of The Christ," has been criticized by people as possibly being anti-Semitic. I feel for everyone who is concerned about anti-Semitism. I can only imagine how I would feel if my grandparents suffered under the hands of a Nazi regime which twisted Christianity and used Christianity as a tool with which to manipulate the masses and create genocide. I can feel their fear. I can understand their concern. Yet at the same time, I want everyone to hear the message of this movie. The message of "The Passion of The Christ" ... the life of Jesus Christ, is the love and compassion that He has for every single one of us. The film is not meant to point fingers at who killed Jesus, because every human being on planet earth participated in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. His death was the result of sins of humanity, and not a single one of us has been spared. But Christ in His unbelievable, incomparable forgiveness is showing the way, allowing Himself to be sacrificed so that we might be saved. His example shows us how to forgive those who donˇ¦t deserve it.

We often forget that you can't throw mud without losing ground. If you throw mud, you have less ground. You cannot accomplish anything in life by tearing people down, by being rude, by being inconsiderate. Kindness is the key and Jesus Christ is our model for kindness and forgiveness. He washed the feet of His disciples. He talked lovingly to prostitutes. He touched the lepers. He forgave sins.

Today, as followers of Jesus Christ, I commission every single person listening to the sound of my voice to become one of His disciples, become a follower of Jesus Christ and show love, show compassion, show kindness and allow the cross of Jesus Christ to mean something.
The Greek word for kindness is "chrestos." Sound familiar? We immediately think of the word "Christ," donˇ¦t we? The reality is that both words are pronounced identically. The word "kind" and the word "Christ" in Greek are both pronounced identically, and are pronounced "Cristos." So in Greek when you say that you are "a Christian," you will also be saying, "I am a kind person."

As a result, Christians have an incredible responsibility to be kind. What happens when we live out acts of kindness? ... it always gets paid forward. Maybe youˇ¦ve seen the movie. Do something nice for someone and when you do, it gets paid forward and little by little the world becomes a better place. It becomes more Christian.

This week every single person will have an opportunity ... the door is going to open up and you will have an opportunity to do something that is going to be more Christ-like. Maybe it will be driving someone to a hospital, or giving somebody $20. It may be doing something thatˇ¦s going to cost you something. It may be inconvenience of time, energy or resources. The challenge will be for you to step forward and do the right thing. Youˇ¦re going to do it because of what Jesus Christ did for you. Thatˇ¦s paying it forward. Thatˇ¦s showing kindness.

Dear Heavenly Father, We thank You that You are alive today, that You are real, and that You died on the cross so that we might live. So we thank You for every human being who has the willingness, the drive and the integrity to stand with You and perform acts of kindness. Now we love You, Lord and we praise Your name. Amen.


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