Summary: Be a joy to others by sharing the gospel and excelling in your love.

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Less than two months after the tragic and momentous events of nine-eleven, Disney released a movie which became a parable of our times. The movie was Monsters, Inc. (released on November 2, 2001), and it described a world that was fueled by fear – literally. The power company in the movie fueled the city with the screams of terrorized children. Their motto was, “We scare because we care.”

Each day, Mike, Sully, and the other monsters would line up on the shop floor as a machine carries dozens of closet doors to individual scaring stations. A scream collection canister sat beside each door, which was the way into to the room of a small child. If the monster did his job well, he got a scream from the child. That scream was then sucked into the scream canister and converted to power.

The only problem was the monsters were not getting enough screams to power the city, and the power company was getting ready to shut down. Mike and Sully were the number-one scare team in the company, but Sully was an easygoing, large, blue, fluffy creature. Mike, his assistant, was an impatient green Cyclops, 90 percent eyeball and 10 percent arms and legs.

They were leaving Monsters, Inc., for what appeared to be the last time, sad that the company was closing and remembering the good times they had. Mike comments, “Yeah, we sure had a lot of laughs.”

Then an idea crosses Sully's face. “Laughs,” he says. Take a look at what happens next (show video clip, “Monsters Inc. Comedy Scene”).

[In the next scene, the closet door of a child's room opens and an ominous shadow falls across the frightened child and his bed. A light comes on and we see Mike, who pulls out a stool and begins a comedy routine. “Hey, it's great to be in your room! You're in kindergarten, right? Hey, I loved kindergarten. Best three years of my life!” The jokes are so bad that Mike has to resort to some crude burping humor, but the results are fantastic. The child begins to laugh hysterically. On the other side of the closet door, a canister fills up with laugh power, and the city never lacks for power again.] (Monsters, Inc., Disney/Pixar Production, 2001,1:20:38-1:22:35)

In a time of terror, this story became a parable about the power of joy over the power of fear. Mike and Sully had a choice. They could choose to encourage, or they could choose to intimidate. They could choose to cheer people up, or they could choose to scare people to death. They could choose to bring joy into someone’s life, or they could choose to bring fear.

Most of us know, intuitively, that if we choose to bring joy into someone’s life, we’ll be a much more powerful force for good than if we choose to intimidate people. The question is: How do we do that? How can we bring joy to people? How can we be a joy to one another? How can we be an encouragement to those around us?

Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Philippians 1, Philippians 1, where a group of people were an encourage-ment to the apostle Paul, even while he was in prison. In Philippians 1, Paul writes them and says…

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