Paying It Forward :: by Grant Phillips

One of nicest things we can do as a Christian is to “pay it forward” when led to do so. Some call this “passing it on.”

I was asked to address this issue by Matt, a brother in Christ. He asked if I might say a few words on this subject. There are many ways we can show this type of kindness and appreciation to others. Following are some ideas.

Pay for someone’s meal without their knowledge.

Give your seat to someone else on a crowded bus.

Offer an honest compliment on a job well done.

Don’t tailgate the slow, slow driver in front of you.

Provide an anonymous gift to a family who has lost their home from a fire.

Provide financial assistance, anonymously, to someone needing an expensive operation.

Complete a company survey, complementing the employee who served your needs.

These are only a few examples. There are literally hundreds of ways we can pay it forward by showing the love of God for others. That’s really what it’s all about. We should always do these kind gestures from love for our fellowman. If it is ever done out of duty or our wanting recognition, it should not be done at all. Neither should it be done out of pity or “looking down” on others.

When we help others, even in a small way, it takes our eyes off us. It also gives us a reward of feeling good inside by helping others. A further reward is that God increases our love we have toward other people and then we look for ways to do more.

The Apostle Paul said to the elders of Ephesus upon his departure from them,  “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 NASB emphasis mine) The passage Paul was referring to is Luke 14:12-14 which says:

“And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (NASB)

How many times have we seen an opportunity come our way to be kind to another and then failed? Here’s some advice. Don’t dwell on it. Move on, because more opportunities will arise. Be ready the next time to not let it slip through your fingers.

Probably the greatest thing we can give anyone else when paying it forward is the good news about Jesus. It’s great to pay for someone’s meal, or their health needs, or bus ticket, or haircut, or groceries, etc. but there is nothing like paying it forward with the good news of eternal life found only in Jesus Christ.

Can sharing the Gospel though actually be classified as paying it forward? Let’s read something else Jesus said.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)

Someone told us about Jesus, and someone told them about Jesus, and someone told them about Jesus. Don’t you think Jesus wants us to pay it forward too so someone else can have what we have; i.e. eternal life through Him? Of course He does. If that isn’t paying it forward (or passing it on) I don’t know what is.

Think about this. The good news about the Good News is that when it was paid forward to us and we pay it forward to someone else, there is actually no “paying” involved other than what Jesus paid for us on the cross. When we put our faith in Jesus to save us everything is paid in full. There is nothing left owing. The slate is clean. And that my friends has been forwarded on to be written down in Heaven and sealed on earth by the Holy Spirit that resides in us as a deposit, a guarantee, of God’s promise of eternal life for those who put their trust in His Son.

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30 NASB) When Jesus said “It is finished,” He was saying our debt has been paid in full. There is nothing left owing. It is an accounting term meaning that the balance is zero.

We may pay it forward occasionally here on earth by paying for someone’s meal, but they will still need to pay for their next meal and their next. However, when it comes to salvation, only Jesus can “pay it forward.” We pay it forward by passing on to others this Good News.

Perhaps when we assist someone else in paying it forward, Jesus is allowing us to experience just a teeny bit of what He feels for us. We pay it forward just a smidgen. He paid it all. When our heart goes out to that one in need of a bright spot in their day, let us consider the great love our Lord has for us.

Let us also consider the blessing received by the one we help. Can it not restore that person’s faith in man, that not all people are selfish and uncaring? Of course it can. Especially if they realize the help comes from someone identified with Jesus Christ, could this not help in perking their interest in hearing about Jesus? It is very likely. That may be a door of opportunity to provide the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.

So when the opportunities arise, and they will, maybe we should consider the small acts of kindness we can be part of by simply “paying it forward.”

Grant Phillips