YEARS AGO, when I pastored in California, an usher met me as I was leaving the church. He had been involved in counting the morning offering. He smiled as he walked up to me, stuck out his hand, and said, “I’ve got something for you. It came in the offering.”
He handed me a note from a child who had been in our service. It read:
TO PASTER CHUCK SWINDOL
I don’t think you know me but I shur know you. You are a very good speeker for Jesus Christ. I think your neet. I even understand what you are saying and that’s how it should be. I LOVE YOU!
A chocolate sucker was attached, all wrapped in cellophane.
Now that’s admiration. When a darling little kid will surrender his or her prized possession . . . wow! I’m honest, it chokes me up. It also keeps me on my toes. Somewhere out there is a child whose eyes are on me, whose ears are tuned in, who’s also choosy. After all, it was a See’s Candy sucker.
Admiration. There’s not much of it today. Yet it’s a biblical virtue worth acknowledging in ourselves as well as in others. The apostle Paul invested in one young man who would one day become a leader in the church at Ephesus:
Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of [admired!] by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey.
I love that very brief story!
Our cynical, self-centered society would do well to restore that invaluable antique that has been cast aside, forgotten like a dust-covered treasure: admiration. A virtue that can neither be purchased nor inherited. Slowly, almost unaware, admiration becomes the carbon paper that transfers character qualities by the rubbing of one life against another.