Perhaps you’ve heard of the book, Pay it Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, or the movie by the same name, starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. The premise is simple; one person does an unprompted good dead for three people, and then they each in turn do something good for three people. The good deeds would then spread through society with everyone eventually doing good deeds for one another.
The concept is not original to Ms. Hyde as a quick browse through Wikipedia will bring up many instances of this wonderful idea, but it is clear that her novel and the movie which followed helped to popularize “paying it forward.”
Have you ever experienced someone “paying it forward?” On Christmas Day, Julia, Jeremiah, and I were traveling back from visiting Julia’s family in Kentucky. We stopped at the only food establishment that we saw open, a popular fast food chain. There were many cars in front of us at the drive through, and as we approached the pay window there were many cars behind us. The lady at the window joyfully informed us that we were the 12th vehicle since someone started a chain of “paying it forward.” The first car paid for their food and the food of the car behind them. Each subsequent car had paid for the food which belonged to the car behind them. It didn’t cost much, but it sure did feel good to know that someone at the end of the line was going to get a free Christmas meal.
Have you ever done something for someone else without expecting any payment in return, other than the good feeling you might receive? Jesus is the ultimate in paying it forward. The Hebrews writer tells us that Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy of bringing us salvation (Heb. 12:2). The cross cost Jesus His life, but it brought Him unspeakable joy because the result was salvation for many. Can we pass along to others what Jesus has so freely purchased? Will you pay it forward today?