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Paying It Forward: Rote or Real?

First Love Hardness of Heart God's Love

Source: "Florida Man Deliberately Scuttles Another 'Pay It Forward' Starbucks Line," By ABC News, August 22, 2014

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Benjamin Burks | Date Posted: 2024-02-28

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:7 ; Revelation 2:4

Author: Benjamin Burks
3

ILLUSTRATION

Florida Man Deliberately Scuttles Another 'Pay It Forward' Starbucks Line

How it started:

A nice man, we'll call him John, loved the simple joy of giving. He was well-known in his community for his acts of kindness, always looking for ways to brighten someone's day. One morning, inspired by stories he'd heard, John decided to start a "pay it forward" chain at his local Starbucks Coffee Shop. He paid for his coffee and for the order of the person in line behind him, leaving the cashier with a smile and instructions to keep the chain going.

For hours, the chain continued, each person "seemingly" touched by the gesture, deciding to pass on the kindness.

How it ended, according to ABC News: 

A Florida man put an end to another “pay it forward” streak at a local Starbucks because he said he thinks people were participating out of “guilt,” not “generosity.”

Peter Schorsch, a blogger, drove to the Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday after hearing about the pay it forward phenomenon there that ended with customer No. 458, a woman, the day before. After he ordered two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos, the barista told him his first drink had been paid for by the previous customer and asked if he would like to pay for the next customer.

“I told him no,” Schorsch, of St. Petersburg, told ABC News. “When the barista asks you to pay it forward, it is no longer spontaneous.”

 

“I’m really not trying to be a Grinch,” Schorsch said. “I know things are hard for baristas and I am willing to help people.”

“I just don’t want to be forced into doing something." ...

When baristas ask customers to pay for the next customer, some patrons simply oblige out of guilt, not generosity, he said.

But before you go thinking all generosity was lost, story ends on a good note ...

Though Schorsch didn't pay for the next customer at the drive-thru, he said he tipped the barista $100.

APPLICATION

This story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of keeping our first love of kindness and generosity alive, not just in actions, but in spirit.

In the early days of following Jesus, our acts of kindness are often driven by a heartfelt response to the love we've experienced in Christ. Over time, however, it's easy for our actions to become mechanical, a matter of rote obligation or compulsion rather than a reflection of a deeply felt love and generosity.

Just as John initiated the pay-it-forward chain out of a genuine desire to spread kindness, we are called to ensure that our acts of love, service, and generosity stem from a place of genuine care and compassion. When we act out of obligation or for recognition, we lose the essence of what it means to love as Jesus loved.

The call to not lose our first love is a call to remember why we started in the first place. It's an invitation to revisit the heart of our actions, ensuring they are rooted in genuine love and not merely in habit or expectation. 

Whether it's in acts of kindness, our service to others, or our relationship with God, let's commit to keeping our hearts engaged, our motives pure, and our love fresh.

In doing so, we not only enrich our own lives, but also truly reflect the heart of Christ to the world around us. Let's not let our love become rote; instead, let's ensure it remains vibrant, heartfelt, and deeply rooted in the love we first received.

"But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first" (Revelation 2:4, ESV).

"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NIV).

 

Taste Them Again For The First Time

Experiencing God First Love Repentance

Source: Various

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-09-29

Scripture: Revelation 2:4 ; Psalms 34:8

Author: Illustration Exchange
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ILLUSTRATION

There have been some pretty memorable commercial catch phrases for cereals over the years. Among them is the 1990s ad campaign for Kellogg's Corn Flakes: "Kellogg's Corn Flakes - Taste them again for the first time."

It's genius, really--a call to go back to relive the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction of a product which may have lost its luster in your mind, and its place in your pantry.

APPLICATION

When it comes to your spiritual life, have you lost the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction you once found in the Savior? Has walking with Him lost its luster? Has He lost His place in your heart?

Jesus calls you to return to your first love--to "taste" Him again, as though for the first time.

"Taste and see as if for the first time! that the LORD is good" (Psalm 34:8).

"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent" (Revelation 2:4-5, NASB).

Keeping the Torch Lit

Passion First Love Endurance

Source: FAN THE FLAME: LIVING OUT YOUR FIRST LOVE FOR CHRIST by Joseph Stowell, p. 32

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-03-09

Scripture: Revelation 2:1

Author: Joseph Stowell
17

ILLUSTRATION

“The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique.* The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit.” 

Joseph Stowell is a teaching pastor, writer, and speaker. He has served as president of both Moody Bible Institute and Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. He has authored several books and is a major contributor to several respected Christian journals and magazines.

*Lampadedromia was a torch relay race which was, at least in part, the inspiration for the modern Olympic torch-lighting relay ritual first instituted in Berlin, 1936.

APPLICATION

Stowell concludes, “I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.”

It's one thing to finish, it's quite another to finish with your torch still lit. This requires faithfulness, not just in action, but in intimate relationship with Christ. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent'” (Revelation 12:1-7).

Illustration Exchange

Can Dry Prayer Signal Growth?

Prayer Spiritual Growth First Love

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-09-19

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Author: Henri Nouwen and Thomas Green
1

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The Dating Stamp of Approval

Dating Relationships Spirituality

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2024-04-11

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:22

Author: Illustration Exchange
1

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Reflecting the Light - It All Comes Down to Proximity

Light Witness Devotion

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2023-12-19

Scripture: John 1:8 ; Matthew 5:14

Author: Marcelle Smith
0

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Shining In Full Strength

Light Love for God Trust (In God)

Contributed By: Donata Voerman | Date Posted: 2023-10-17

Scripture: Judges 5:31 ; Matthew 5:14

Author: Donata Voerman
2

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Love is Horizontal and Vertical

Love for God Love (Human) God's Love

Contributed By: Joey Sparks | Date Posted: 2023-04-15

Scripture: 1 John 4:7 ; 1 John 3:16

Author: Joey Sparks
3

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How Do I Love Thee?

Love (Human) Love for God Love (Uncondtional)

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2022-02-23

Scripture: Psalms 92:

Author: Neal Pollard
3

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Asking The Wrong Question

Love for God Motivation Legalism

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2020-08-16

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25

Author: Neal Pollard
9

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