Giveaway Alert

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Can you remember back to a time when you found money laying on the ground in a parking lot – maybe just a dime or a quarter? I don’t know about you, but when that happens, I always feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. Have you ever been gifted with something for no reason – not your birthday, anniversary, or Christmas – you didn’t deserve or earn it – the favor just happened, totally unexpected?

If anything like this has ever happened to you, you may have been the recipient of a “pay-it-forward” act of kindness. To pay-it-forward means instead of paying someone back for a good deed, you do a good deed unexpectedly for someone else. Doing a favor for an unsuspecting stranger or even a friend can be an amazing act of generosity and compassion

. There’s a fascinating story of a pizza eatery in Philly, owned by Mason Wartman, who started his own pay-it-forward movement to provide a free slice of pizza to the homeless. Basically, a customer donates a dollar and Wartman then writes up a voucher on a post-it note that gets stuck to the wall. When a homeless person unsticks the post-it voucher, they cash it in for their free slice of pizza. Wartman has given away well over 10,000 slices of pizza. This is pay-it-forward at its most creative and finest.

The intriguing thing about pay-it-forward is found in its diversity. Pay-it-forward can range from a child “finding” your loose change, handing over your umbrella to someone else on a rainy day, buying donuts or coffee for another, allowing someone to cut in line at a store, or even giving out gift cards to complete strangers with a note of encouragement. All have been done.

Even the Bible has something to say about these “contemporary” occurrences. Luke 6:32-33 tells us: “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!” John Wooden once remarked, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” So Biblical.

Of course, the ultimate act of pay-it-forward was done by Jesus over 2,000 years ago, when He willingly and purposely gave His life on the cross at Calvary to pay the debt of sin that we all have! Expecting nothing in return, He gave everyone the gift of life! Like any other pay-it-forward gift, it’s ours to take or leave on the plate!

So, what are some great ideas for this unique way of gifting? Try a few of these on for size: send an anonymous card to someone, leave an encouraging note in a library book along with some money, pen a note on a bulletin board along with a dollar bill, buy lemonade from a kid’s homemade stand, pay off someone’s layaway, pay for a person’s gas at the pump, etc. Joshua Neil would add this low-cost gift: “Once in a while try to do something nice for somebody you don’t know, even if it’s just leaving an opening in traffic for them to merge into, small things like that give people hope that we’re not all @&#%’s!” Yikes!! Well – at least his heart’s in the right place! Sometimes, pay-it-forward chains occur – they are uncommon – but they happen. One such chain began in a Starbucks in Newington, Connecticut on Christmas Eve morning, December 24, 2013. The first customer paid for her drink and left money for the next customer in line—one customer after another paid it-forward for the following four days. The pay-it-forward coffee chain finally came to an end on December 28 – 1,468 customers later.

Life is short – life is good – life is a gift. Often just finding a “giving opportunity” – even with a complete stranger – and giving freely without expecting anything in return, can absolutely make YOUR day! Sarah Bernhardt, (1844-1923) penned this insightful truth: “Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” Proverbs 11:24-25, written thousands of years ago, gives us the same eureka moment: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds, but it leads to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Pay-it-forward? It’s Christmas – why not give it a try?!

Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street, in Hemet, CA. For more information, you can contact them at DPCitychurch.org.

Susan Beckett | The Dwelling Place City Church

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