Paying It Backward

Every so often a similar story will take place that happened in late August. A lady went through a drive through at Starbucks and not only paid for what she got, but then the person behind her paid for the person behind him and one person after another paid the person’s bill behind them. You’ve heard of paying it forward but this I suppose should be paying it backward. Either way, it turns out to be a great blessing. Some years ago an experiment was done at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco where not only the drivers but management itself told people when they came to the toll booth window that the person in front of you paid your toll. Then they were asked, “Would you like to pay for the person behind you?” Of course they kept up with who did what and the fascinating conclusion revealed that one out of every ten said yes; 90% just took their blessing and drove on. Now back at Starbucks, it was a little bit different for the chain of people paying the next one and the next one and the next one was 79 consecutive cars, until someone stopped the blessing from flowing.

Now I certainly recognize that not everybody can just go around blessing everybody. In fact, I suppose that nobody has enough resources just to go around paying forward and backward and doing for others just out of the blue, but that is not usually the problem. For instance, with something like Starbucks or even a toll at a bridge being paid for you, you probably showed up there with the resources to take care of some of the expenses. So you could, if you desired to, use what you were going to spend on yourself that someone else took care of to bless someone else. It’s at that point that some people say, “Well, this is my money. If they want to do that that’s their business, but I don’t want to do that. What’s mine is mine and I am going to use it on myself.”

In that beautiful story that Jesus told that we call The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), you run into folks like that, and other variations of it, as a man was just traveling down the road of life and was accosted by thieves who robbed him and beat him up and left him. You know the old saying, that to these people they thought what is yours is mine and I will take it if I can. It wasn’t long, until on that same road, some devout religious people came by and they saw, passed by this poor fellow, and theirs was the position that what’s mine is mine and I’m going to hold on to it.

But then there was a man, who when you look at it in the story as Jesus told it, you would have never believed that he was thinking the way he was thinking. That he would do something so out of the norm, outrageously good, that you would just have to stop and wonder where in the world does that come from. For this Samaritan traveling on that road and wanting to help that fellow went over and cleaned up his wounds, picked him up and put him on his own beast of burden, carried him to a place where he could be taken care of, paid his expenses, said I’ll pick up anything else that comes along, and he lived out a concept every one of us should have the joy of experiencing: to touch somebody else’s life. His thoughts were what is mine is mine, but I will share it with you to help you on your journey in life.

Is the world full of these folks? Well, you know better than that, but the truth is, there are a lot of people, and I can tell you for sure in our churches there are a lot of people, who have a sensitivity toward God and the blessings that he has poured out upon them and the desire to bless others that is motivated by the Lord Himself. I have met these folks. So many of them pay it backward and pay it forward and pay it sideways and they bless me over and over again.

Here’s the question that we all face. What are we doing with the blessings that God has entrusted to us? Are we paying it forward or backward or alongside of us? Are we living with closed, clenched fists holding on to what God has given to us or are we sharing it with others? Virtually everything that you and I have comes by way of someone else blessing us. So today find at least one way to experience the joy that Jesus said is ours by giving. For it was the Lord who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer