(Photo by Selma Komisky)
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
By Michelle Ochen
“Pay it forward” is no new phrase; we have heard it tossed around for years, but have we paused to really consider the idea behind it? Some think it originated from a quote in Lily Hardy Hammond’s book, “Garden of Delight” when she explained love as being something you pay forward. The idea of forwarding something is to keep it moving onward. There are times of paying and times of being forwarded. To be forwarded is to be given to with the hope that you will forward on the giving to another in due time and cause a ripple effect of positive change.
Jesus’ whole life was a pay it forward. He demonstrated this concept long before it was written about in modern literature. He even spoke of it in terms that related to His audience when He shared that if a grain is to fall into the ground, it remains alone, unless it dies. In the dying, and in due time, it then springs up into a great harvest multiplying itself into many (John 12:24). This is the concept of paying it forward; it is a sacrificial gift given without a guaranteed return, but a hope that it will forward on to affect many. As followers of Jesus, our lives ought to mirror this principle that He embodied. Jesus gave of Himself for the salvation of the world. He paid Himself forward so that many may be saved. Much of the world did not accept Him in the time He ministered many misunderstood and ridiculed the very gift he was giving out. Jesus’ investment was received by a minority at the time He gave of Himself upon the cross. Nevertheless, just as the grain, in time, generations upon generations have reaped the gift of His salvation and the everlasting life He gives.
Much of the concept of paying it forward is a sacrifice in the present that does not show forth evidence of growth until a future time. It is a living out of the call to store up treasures above, not on earth. The only thing that lives forever are souls, and that ought to be the focus of our investments. The things we do in the present can be an investment into our future. Paying it forward is a giving that does not require a repay, instead it hopes to keep being gifted onward.
What kind of season do you find yourself in? There are seasons in our lives where we need to receive and be filled up. For you cannot give what you do not have. But there are other seasons where we ought to be giving out from what we have received. We are not created to stay in a place of receiving forever, but maturity invites us to begin giving out from the increase of what we have received. If you are a humble receiver, you will become a generous giver when the time comes for you to give.
Where do you find yourself today? I personally am in a season of being one forwarded. The past couple of years have brought much change and many people have paid it forward to help me heal and rebuild my life. I have received physical resources, words of encouragement, counsel, finances, and home-cooked meals. Many people have paid it forward to me in various ways and it has humbled me and caused me to tuck away excitement for the season of my life when I will be able to pay it forward to someone else in similar ways. You may not have many material things to give in this season of life, but you do have the gift of time and kindness—and both have many recipes. Begin giving out of those resources to those around you and see how that can have a ripple effect and then keep being faithful and watch how the Lord will multiply and give you the ability to pay it forward in more ways in time. The self-sacrificing gifts I have been given from those around me spur me to want to do the best with what I have been given and grow that I might be able to give back to others one day. It is a joy for me to think that when others have paid it forward to me, they have really been doing it as unto the Lord and He can bless them in return and in ways far greater than I ever could. How beautiful is the reality that the more we give, the more we receive in the eternal scales? You cannot give too much when you serve a King who gave of Himself and is the ultimate Gift that keeps on giving.