6:27-38; Galatians 5:22-23
Pay It Forward, is a movie about a seventh
grader’s ingenious plan to make a difference in the world. On the
first day of school, Trevor McKinney (played by Haley Joel Osment) and
his classmates are challenged by their social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet
(played by Kevin Spacey), to change the world. Written on the blackboard,
the challenge reads: "Think of an idea to change our world—and put it into
action." While most children disinterestedly slouch in their desks, Trevor
is mesmerized by the possibility of changing the world.
As Trevor rides his dirt bike back to the
modest home in which he and his struggling, alcoholic mom live, he detours
to a place where the homeless gather. An unkempt, unshaven man devouring
a chocolate cookie catches Trevor’s eye. Motivated by his teacher’s challenge,
Trevor invites the man to come and sleep in his garage. Trevor’s mother
(played by Helen Hunt) is unaware of this arrangement until she awakens
one evening to find the homeless man working on her broken-down pickup.
Holding the man at gunpoint, she asks him to explain himself. He starts
the truck to show her that he has successfully repaired it and tells her
about Trevor’s kindness. He says, "Somebody comes along like your son and
gives me a leg up, I’ll take it. I can’t mess up again, or I’ll be dead.
I’m just paying it forward." Quizzically, Trevor’s mom asks, "What’s paying
The next day Trevor explains to his class
his amazing plan of paying it forward. Mr. Simonet and Trevor’s classmates
are enthralled by Trevor’s idea. To explain his plan, he draws a circle
and explains, "That’s me." Underneath it, he draws three other circles,
saying, "That’s three other people. I’m going to help them, but it has
to be something really big—something they can’t do for themselves. So I
do it for them, and they do it for three people. That’s nine people." And
nine lives turn into 27.
As the movie proceeds, "paying it forward"
changes the lives of the rich, the poor, the homeless, and a prisoner.
The Bible emphatically teaches that we in
a very real sense pay life forward through sowing and reaping.
and It Shall Be Given to You."
The Bible fully supports the idea that
God blesses those who bless others.
2 "I will make you into a great
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless
and whoever curses you I will
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."
Jesus taught that life is reciprocal in that
we receive what we have given to others.
27 "But I tell you who hear
me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who
curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on
one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do
not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you,
and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to
others as you would have them do to you.
32 "If you love those who love
you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that
to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you
expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,'
expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them,
and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward
will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind
to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 "Do not judge, and you will
not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive,
and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good
measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured
into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
These verses definitely teach us that
we in a very real sense pay life forward. Jesus says, "If you love
those who love you, what credit is that to you?" Salvation is not meritorious.
It is an act of grace without merit, but we must realize that our works
do have merit. Here, there seems to be the idea that you will be given
credit for what you do. But the surety of payday is stated even more clearly
when Jesus says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure,
pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your
lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." This
promise is not limited to finances; it embraces our relationships with
Paul refers to this as reaping what
6 Anyone who receives instruction
in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot
be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful
nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please
the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not
become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let
us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family
of believers. NIV
Paul mentions the financial rewards
of sowing and reaping.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
6 Remember this: Whoever sows
sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also
reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart
to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful
giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all
things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every
good work. 9 As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his
gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
10 Now he who supplies seed
to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store
of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will
be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. NIV
it Forward Requires Faith in God
Hebrews 11:4 says, "By faith Abel offered
to God a better sacrifice than Cain." Here the writer of Hebrews goes
back to the very first description of worship in the Bible - that of Cain
and Abel. It says that Abel's offering was better by faith. We read in
"So it came about in the course of time
that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And
Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their
fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but
for Cain and for his offering He had no regard."
Students of the Bible differ widely
on the reason for God accepting the one offering and rejecting the other.
It has been suggested that the issue was that of a blood offering vs. a
vegetable offering. While I cannot deny that may have been the case, that
isn't what is mentioned. The "firstlings of the flock" would be the first
born - the very first animals of the herd's increase. Whenever the Bible
speaks of the first of the vegetable harvest, it refers to the "first fruits,"
the very first harvest brought to the barn. No "first fruit" is mentioned
here in regard to Cain's offering. It may just be that Abel's offering
was accepted because he gave God the first of His increase, not knowing
if there would be any more animals born. Cain, on the other hand, may have
waited until he had his harvest in the barn, then he cut out some of the
increase for God. It takes very little faith to give out of your abundance.
It takes great faith to give all that you have to date! (David Redick,
The Greatest Risk of You Life, Preacher’s Study, http://www.Preacherstudy.com)
The issue of giving the first fruits or the
"firstlings of the flock" is that you don't know if anything else is going
to come in! You can see the risk in that. That's where the faith is! (David
Redick, The Greatest Risk of You Life, Preacher’s Study, http://www.Preacherstudy.com)
Florence Nightengale said, "If I could
give you information of my life it would be to show how a woman of very
ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths
to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell
you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing. I have worked
hard, very hard, that is all; and I have never refused God anything." (Florence
Nightengale, quoted in My Heart Sings. Christianity Today,
Vol. 33, no. 5.)
Receiving mercy depends upon us showing
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. NIV
12 Speak and act as those who
are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment
without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy
triumphs over judgment! NIV
A man told of his experience on an airplane
flight. As the plane loaded up, a woman with two small children came down
the aisle to take the seat right in front of us. And behind her, another
woman. The two women took the A and C seats, and one of the
children sat in the middle seat, and the second child was on the lap of
one of the women. I figured these were two mothers traveling together with
their kids, and I hoped the kids wouldn’t be noisy.
The flight started, and my prayer wasn’t answered.
The two children had a tough time. The air was turbulent, the children
cried a lot—their ears hurt—and it was a miserable flight. I watched as
these two women kept trying to help and comfort these children. The woman
at the window played with the child in the middle seat, trying to make
her feel good and paying lots of attention.
I thought, these women get a medal for
what they are doing. But things went downhill from there. As we got
towards the last part of the flight, the child in the middle seat got sick.
The next thing I knew she was losing everything from every part of her
body. The diaper wasn’t on tight, and before long a stench began to rise
through the cabin. It was unbearable!
I could see over the top of the seat that
indescribable stuff was all over everything. It was on this woman’s clothes.
It was all over the seat. It was on the floor. It was one of the most repugnant
things I had seen in a long time.
I watched as the woman next to the window
patiently comforted the child and tried her best to clean up the mess and
make something out of a bad situation. The plane landed, and when we pulled
up to the gate all of us were ready to exit that plane as fast as we could.
The flight attendant came up with paper towels and handed them to the woman
in the window seat and said, "Here, Ma’am, these are for your little girl."
The woman said, "This isn’t my little girl."
"Aren’t you traveling together?"
"No, I’ve never met this woman and these children
before in my life."
Suddenly I realized this woman had just
been merciful. A lot of us would have just died in this circumstance.
She had found the opportunity to give mercy. She was, in the words of Christ,
"the person who was the neighbor."
This would be a great turn around for
the vast majority today. It's a new year. Has the human condition
changed? On New Year's Day 2002, passers-by robbed the body of a Las Vegas
woman killed after she was hit by three vehicles. Las Vegas police said
the first two vehicles that struck 42-year-old Lynette Spiller drove away.
While Spiller's body was pinned under the third car, passers-by combed
through her purse, wallet, and backpack. Detective Doug Nutton said one
person later gave police Spiller's identification card, saying it had been
found elsewhere. Police said Spiller was jaywalking, but the drivers of
the first two cars could be charged with felony hit-and-run. The driver
of the third car stopped.
People in our culture take notice when
we care for the needs of others. (Don Argue, Leadership,
Vol. 14, no. 2.)
We can prove our faith by our commitment
to it and in no other way. Any belief that does not command the
one who holds it is not a real belief--it is only a pseudo-belief. It might
shock some of us profoundly if we were suddenly brought face-to-face with
our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living. (A.W.
Tozer in This World: Playground or Battlefield? Christianity
Today, Vol. 35, no. 4.)
Ecclesiastes says, "Cast your bread
upon the surface of the water and you shall find it after many days."
Faith is hardest of all on all those days that come between our throwing
our bread and the end of God's definition of "many days!"
The best preparation you can make for the
future is to start paving a smooth road into the future by paying for it
I sat down beside a young man that was
holding a book titled, "The Living Buddha; The Living Christ." I
ask him about the book. He said the book compared the teaching of Christ
and the teaching of Buddha. We talked briefly about the comparisons
of Christ’s and Buddha’s teaching. I said, "You know, Christ and Buddha
taught that the deeds you do will come back to you." He said, Buddha described
it as creating good or bad karma." Karma is described as the total effect
of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's
existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny.
I said, "Christ presented it as reaping what
we sow." He agreed. I mentioned that the only problem with Buddha’s teaching
was that he did not offer much in the hereafter, but Christ resurrected
from the dead. He mentioned that Buddha believed in reincarnation, but
he thought that was pretty far fetched. He said that he was studying this
book to develop a faith in himself by using this principle of creating
good for himself by doing good. He was ultimately trying to develop a faith
in himself, but a faith in ourselves can take us no further than ourselves,
for it is motivated by selfishness.
I believe the principle of sowing and reaping
works for everyone, but it is only through becoming a Christian that we
reap the eternal consequences of paying it forward. Christ asks us to make
a selfless sacrifice, i.e., a sacrifice that excludes self, but ultimately
23 Jesus replied, "The hour
has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless
a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single
seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his
life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will
keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where
I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves
Baptism is about sowing and reaping.
In baptism we allow the kernel of life to be buried in God through Christ.
is where we make a pledge to live life forward, to pay in advance for the
kind of future we desire realizing that we are going to reap what we sow.