Reading: Matthew 22: 34 – 40
Preacher: Rev Kevin Kim
“After introducing the concept of ‘Key Person’ on Sunday, 19 June, Kevin wants to continue to explore how and why we could become ‘Key Person’ to more people in our neighbourhood and community. Giving pushes aside the negative emotions, and clearly contributes to stress-induced psychological and physical illness. A concept “helper’s high” was introduced in 1988. A full 50 percent of helpers reported feeling “high” when they helped others, while 43 percent felt stronger and more energetic. An astonishing 13 percent even experienced fewer aches and pains. It is also believed that giving protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. Whenever someone does something for another – whether that’s offering to help an elderly neighbour carry groceries, donating money to one in need, the act of kindness stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain’s reward centres, resulting in the “helper’s high.” As Disciples of Christ we are called to love and serve God and others, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Love your neighbour as yourself.. The concept like ‘the helper’s high’ encourages us to find opportunities to give back to our community as we develop a Key Person relationship to extend God’s kingdom in our midst.”
You would still remember the concept of Key Person that I talked about on Sunday, 19 June, a few weeks ago. If I quickly summarize my message, according to William Glasser (1998)’s Choice theory, we humans have five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun. Love and belonging are one of the basic and the most important human needs which can be fulfilled by having a strong interpersonal relationship.
In order to have a strong interpersonal relationship, we need ‘Key Person’.
If you want to satisfy your needs of love and belonging properly, you need to have at least 15-20 key persons in your life.
So you would agree that we need more key persons in our lives to extend God’s kingdom through our relationship.
To have more key persons, we would need to be kind and nice to others. We would need to care for others, serve them and love them. But helping others and giving something generously to someone does good not only for them, but also for us as well.
Giving pushes aside the brooding negative emotions, like rage and envy, that clearly contribute to stress-induced psychological and physical illness.
A concept “helper’s high” was introduced in 1988. A full 50 percent of helpers reported feeling “high” when they helped others, while 43 percent felt stronger and more energetic. An astonishing 13 percent even experienced fewer aches and pains. It is also believed that giving protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease.
Whenever someone does something for another – whether that’s offering to help an elderly neighbour carry groceries or donating money to one in need, the act of kindness stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain’s reward centres, resulting in the “helper’s high.”
Dr Stephen Post writes about different aspects of ‘Helper’s High’ in this book, “why good things happen to good people”. I talked about this book at church council meeting a few months ago. Stephen starts his book, describing his meeting with Sir John Templeton. Sir John was legendary in the investing world for creating one of the most successful funds of the last century. His annual Templeton Prize offers about 1.5 million a year and has been awarded to people like Mother Teresa and Desmond Tutu. This author, Stephen was asked by Sir Templeton that he established a first-class scientific institute to study the impact of love and giving on lives. So in 2001, the institute for Research on Unlimited Love was founded at Case Western Reserve University. This book was produced through his research at this new institute for love.
Stephen suggests that even the simple act of praying for others, reduces the harmful impact of health difficulties in old age for those doing the praying. Other research found that for people age sixty-five and older, volunteer work substantially reduces symptoms of depression. According to another study, individuals over sixty-five who volunteer are significantly less likely to die over the next eight years than those who do no volunteer work.
Research in 2005 shows that nurturing others may feel good because it is rewarded by a sharp increase in dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical linked to craving, pleasure, and reward. The study found that our most common genetic subtype of dopamine is significantly linked to generous, giving behaviour. Science recognized this as “helper’s high.” In his book, he included much different research on giving and helping others.
ABC Television show, “Making Australia Happy” was screened in 2010. Some of you might remember watching these series. Making Australia Happy features eight volunteers who want to become happier. They are all from one of Australia’s most miserable cities, Marrickville. They represented a range of ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances, but they shared the desire to get happy.
Eight unhappy people offer themselves up to science – their brains are scanned, their lives examined, their saliva swabbed and their blood tested.
Guided by three experts including a psychologist, Dr Grant, the group was given a number of tools to increase happiness over an eight-week period.
Dr Anthony Grant is one of three experts in this series and he wrote this book ‘Eight steps to happiness’ based on this TV series. He is recognised globally as a key pioneer of Coaching Psychology. He is founder of the world’s first Coaching Psychology Unit at Sydney University.
In this book, he records the details on how eight participants experienced their changes to be happier. For example, they helped out for a couple of hours at the Exodus Foundation. Some of the participants helped in the kitchen, while others waited on tables. Some of them initially quite anxious about interacting with so many new people, but they were extremely grateful for the experience. After the volunteering at Exodus foundation, Dr Grant took samples of everybody’s saliva before and after the volunteering session. There was amazing boost of about 35 per cent in immunoglobulin antibodies, which protect the body from common illnesses like colds and flu. And it was significant result from just two hours of volunteering.
“Random act of kindness” is a selfless act performed by a person wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual. To introduce this notion of “random acts of kindness”, Dr Grant gave all participants $20 and asked them to use it for someone else in the main shopping mall in Marrickville. At first some of them found it confronting when his offers to push heavy trolleys were rejected. He then chose an older man to give money to for a coffee and cake, and ended up having up a long conversation with him.
One participant decided to buy a bunch of flowers to give them to one woman. She said this woman in her 70s really appreciated it. She was hugging and kissing me. It was most emotional experience, and it made her feel fantastic.
Another participant bought wrapped chocolates and offered to shoppers as they waited at the check-out. He said, “the responses I got from people were fantastic. It gave me a lot of confidence in humankind.”
The participants’ progress was tracked weekly using a series of tests both physical and psychological that included cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone) levels. So, did they get happier? Yes, they did! People’s cortisol levels went way down across the group and the brain scans showed positive results as well.
Then what does Bible talk about giving and helping others? This morning’s Matthew passage teaches us that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and with all oud mind and love our neighbours as ourselves. This passage clearly sums up our attitude towards God and neighbours.
Paul says in Acts 22:35 that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Jesus says in Matthew 10:42 that “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Good Samaritan story in Luke 10 also challenges us how we practice giving and love and who is my neighbours and key person.
The Bible has a consistent message of helping neighbours and others.
We will continue to grow in number, discipleship, impact and relationship. Amen.