How Not To Pay It Forward

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you before, but it’s pretty cool when the person ahead of you in a drive through line pays for your meal.  I have done it for others but never have had someone do it for me, that is until today.

I ordered food, got to the window to pay and the nice lady said, “Hey the person in front of you paid for your meal.”  How awesome I thought, but then she followed with this, “The person also said that you should pay for the person behind you.”

I only had seven bucks on me at the time so I had already been carefully about what I ordered at this particular, kind of pricey, fast food restaurant.  The woman at the window informed me that the persons meal behind me was close to what I was going to pay, so I paid for their meal as to not look like a jerk.

That’s not paying it forward.  Paying it forward involves doing something nice for someone expecting nothing in return so that your act may inspire the person to do something likewise.  The person in front of me, while their intentions may have been good, wasn’t being a blessing they were just starting a weird game of everyone else pay for someone else’s meal.  Where’s the blessing in that?

When we give and serve others we are called to be selfless.   To give of our time, money, and stuff without expecting something in return.  That’s the greatest and most inspiring way to “pay it forward.” In the below passage from Luke 6 Jesus talks about serving even our enemies without expecting anything in return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. -Luke‬ ‭6‬:‭35-36

The person who paid for my meal “paid it forward” expecting me to do something for someone else.  This is quite the opposite of paying it forward. There is no blessing in expecting something in return.

When we do something for others we should expect nothing in return.  We give because what we have is first and foremost a gift from God.  We are giving back and sharing what God has given us.

So be a blessing to someone today, just do it without the expectation of anything in return.  That’s when your gift will inspire others to do likewise.

Do you have some good examples of how to “pay it forward” and bless other people selflessly?

The World Doesn’t Need Anymore Empty Promises.

IMG_0452Every day we are bombarded with empty promises.  For the most part they are for someone else’s gain veiled cleverly to look like we will be the ones who are better off after we buy their product.  Checking my email this morning I found emails promoting pills for weight loss to make me attractive, dating sites that promise happiness in other people, and clothes that will make me cool and help me fit in.  .

My wife and I were watching football over the Christmas season and during a commercial break one commercial caught my eye.  Everything in the commercial looked elegant and classy; champagne, expensive jewelry, beautiful people, extravagant house, and lots of other fine things.   The funny thing is that this commercial wasn’t for any of those things.  The last frame of the commercial flashed a car – so if we want to be associated with fancy things then we need own this car.

Most of us know by now there’s nothing wrong with trying to be healthy, wanting to look good, have nice things or date, but real happiness or self-worth can not be found in any of these things.

I think the church can get caught up in making empty promises as well.  We promise things and then we, who are supposed to His representatives to the rest the world, forget to be those promises.

We say that He is love, but act like jerks.  We say that He is forgiving, but we hold grudges.  We say that He is inclusive, and we turn churches into cliques where only people who look and act like us are invited into our “club.”  We say that real life is found in Him, but we put on fake smilies and act like everything is ok when it’s not. We say prayer is important, but only pray a couple of times a week when we are in need. I could go on for a while…

It’s not my intention to criticize the church, but to show that if we don’t get real with our faith we will never lead people to a real faith in Jesus.  That doesn’t mean that we have it all together, but that we fight to be selfless and to acknowledge Jesus in every aspect of our lives.  The more real we are the more people will want what we have in Jesus.

Always be real.  It’s ok if we don’t understand everything or to admit we don’t have all the answers.  That doesn’t mean that God is not real, because you don’t know everything about Him.  Show people what God is doing in your life and be honest about it.

God is alive and well in and around us today, and we are the example of that.

How do you keep from getting caught up in fake stuff?  How do you stay real in the day in and day out of following Jesus?

Is What I Give Good Enough?

I follow a lot of really creative people on Twitter.  Today a guy named Dan Stevers (@danstevers on Twitter) posted a video he created based around the story of Cain and Abel.  You can watch it here…

After thinking about the things that I offer God I have discovered that I often treat God like a waiter where I’m tipping Him for being good to me, and then leaving him at the curb until I need something again.   I have in no way positioned myself to be fully relying on Him.  I have not given my best.

This doesn’t just apply to money in our lives.  I have put things and people before God over and over. In part, because I’ve fallen victim to wanting life to be easy and safe.  It is much easier to trust something I can see than to trust someone I can’t always see.

Tweet: (Click to tweet)

God is powerful and untamable.  That means that in giving the best parts of my life over to Him I may not get what I want.  I may not be put in positions where I am comfortable or safe.  For me that’s a scary proposition.

I have to continue to remind myself that God is always good and that I’m always safe in His arms.  He has promised to look out for me.  That doesn’t mean I’ll have nice things, I think it may mean quite the opposite as it has meant that for many of the early Christians in the Bible. That in those moments of totally relying on Him that’s often where He shows up big in our lives.

Life isn’t about having things it’s having a relationship with the God who gave us this life, and a life lived like that is fully satisfying. I want to be better at living my life fully reliant on God.   I think it starts with one moment at a time, so that’s where I’ll start.  Right here and now, God you can have it all because I know where it came from and who it ultimately belongs to.