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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


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.


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).


Love is Horizontal and Vertical

Love for God Love (Human) God's Love

Source: Self

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

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

Author: Joey Sparks


If we were to peek behind the drywall in this room and notice that all of the vertical studs had been removed, and there were only horizontal beams, we would leave the building as soon as possible. And likewise, if the building only had vertical studs and no horizontal beams, we would feel unsafe knowing that the building was not stable. We'd run for the exits!

Likewise, if we took a piece of fabric and pulled out all of the vertical or horizontal strands, we would be left with nothing but a handful of strands and dangling threads in either hand. The piece of fabric only exists because the strands run in different directions, giving body and support, and form to the cloth.


God's love is limitless in every direction (Eph. 3:18).

"And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is" (Ephesians 3:18, NLT).

God's love is not one dimensional. He instructs us and shows us to love one another, even as He has love us, because our love for Him and others originates from Him and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf (1 John 3:16; 4:7-10).

Jesus' death reveals us to be liars when we say things like, "I love God with all my heart, but I just can't get along with him/her." Or, "I get along with everyone, but I just don't have any time for God."

We fool ourselves when we say we love Him (vertical strands of faith), but do not love others (horizontal strands of faith). Or when we say we have love and care for our fellow man, but show no love or care for the God who created us all.

Like a poorly constructed building or poorly woven cloth, our love and relationships are flimsy at best and dangerous at worst, when they are not rooted and grounded in the multi-dimensional love of God.

What an opportunity to grow in our love for one another as we pursue a deeper relationship of love for God!

Sometimes Life Is Just This Random

Blessings/Blessedness Destiny God's Love

Source: “Woman wins $10 million after accidentally pushing the wrong button on lottery machine” by Deepa Shivaram, posted on, retrieved 4/23/22.

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-05-05

Scripture: Matthew 5:45

Author: Illustration Exchange


Sometimes life is just so random. Take for example the “accidental” good fortune ($10 million worth!) of LaQuedra Edwards of SoCal, whose random collision with a stranger resulted in the haul of a lifetime.

As UPI reports:

Edwards had just put $40 into a lottery ticket vending machine at a supermarket in Los Angeles when "some rude person" bumped into her, causing her to accidentally push the wrong number on the machine.
"He just bumped into me, didn't say a thing and just walked out the door," Edwards said.

Edwards was quire resentful at first, because she had just put nearly all her cash into the machine, and was now committed to a lotto ticket that was not of her choosing. 

She usually purchases cheaper tickets, but the accidental button push meant she'd bought a $30 200X Scratchers ticket. 

Her annoyance and frustration was quickly turned to exuberant disbelief as she began scratching the ticket, only to find that she just won the $10 million jackpot!

Edwards said. "I pulled over, looked at it again and again, scanned it with my (California Lottery mobile) app, and I just kept thinking this can't be right."



The fact that such a thing could happen to one means that it could just as easily happen to anyone.  God's love is indiscriminate and the random nature of life is meant to drive that point home.  

Today it may rain on my field but tomorrow it may rain on yours.  Either way, the message is the same.  God loves us all indiscriminately. 

"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Mattew 5:45b, NIV).

Every Soul Is Priceless

Human Worth God's Love Self-worth

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-12-14

Scripture: Romans 5:8

Author: Brett Kays

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God Loves Us First, We Love Him Last

God's Love God's Patience Ingratitude

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-05-06

Scripture: 1 John 4:10 ; Romans 5:8

Author: Illustration Exchange

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What If God Canceled Us?

Forgiveness Politics God's Love

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2021-03-28

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:9 ; Hebrews 7:25

Author: Neal Pollard

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A Picture of Pure Love

Love for God God's Love New Birth

Contributed By: DEAN KAHLICH | Date Posted: 2019-05-19

Scripture: John 3:16 ; 1 John 4:19


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Drawn to the Well

Legalism Calling God's Love

Contributed By: Gabriel Carnes | Date Posted: 2019-03-29

Scripture: John 4:14 ; John 10:27

Author: Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch

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The Broken Xylophone

Sin Human Nature God's Love

Contributed By: James Miller | Date Posted: 2018-12-29

Scripture: Romans 3:9 ; 1 John 4:10

Author: James Miller

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The Sex Exposure Calculator

Marriage Purity God's Love

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-06-20

Scripture: John 15:10

Author: Illustration Exchange

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