One Friday morning, after a long, challenging week, I ordered a cup of coffee at a drive-through. When I attempted to pay, the cashier said, “The car in front of you took care of it.” Tears came to my eyes. I can’t tell you how much of a boost (better than caffeine) that was for me. This kind gesture lifted my spirits immensely and carried me through the day.
A few months earlier, I felt inspired to pay for the driver’s order in the car behind me. Unexpectedly, I have had that gesture reciprocated twice. On another occasion, my husband drove my daughter home during a difficult struggle she was experiencing, and he decided to treat her at a drive-through. The customer in front of them paid for their order. When performing random acts of kindness for others, we shouldn’t expect anything in return; however, God blesses us just in the nick of time, exactly when we need it.
There is actually a day named after the kind gestures I have described. It is called Pay It Forward Day, and it’s this Thursday, April 28. Pay It Forward Day is celebrated in 78 countries including the U.S. Its primary focus is to think of ways to help others and realize the power of giving.
Here are some tips inspired by the official Pay It Forward website to implement on Thursday:
1. Pay for another person’s fare. You can do this at a fast-food restaurant, convenience store, train or bus station, a coffee shop — anywhere you like.
2. If it’s raining, give your umbrella to someone who does not have one.
3. Visit an elderly neighbor’s house, and ask if they need anything fixed.
4. Make a donation to your favorite charity.
5. Tell the manager of a restaurant how great your server was. You can do this in any store or business. Focus on brightening someone else’s day with a compliment.
6. Cook a casserole for a new mother. Caring for newborns is exhausting.
7. If you are washing your car or mowing your lawn, do the same for your neighbor.
8. At your office, thank the people who do things in the background. Everyone’s role is important, and no one’s job is purposeless. Thank the mailroom worker, the clerk who orders supplies, or the maintenance crew.
9. Drive an elderly neighbor to the grocery store. They enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house. If they aren’t able to go, then take their list and shop for them. If at all possible, pay for their items.
10. Be a mentor for someone who needs some guidance.
11. Offer to babysit a single mom’s child(ren), giving her time for herself.
12. Work free of charge for someone who can’t afford your services — just ask that they pay it forward.
These are just a few ideas. Most of all, pray about whom to help.
As we know, pay-it-forward principles are clearly stated in scripture. Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
I was not expecting to have my deed reciprocated. I paid it forward unconditionally and without knowing the recipient. God allowed me to do a random act of kindness that day that paid for itself in more than one way. Here are more scriptures about loving one another:
- John 13:34
- Matthew 22:39
- Mark 12:31
- John 15:17
- Romans 12:10
- Romans 13:9
- 2 Corinthians 9:7
- 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Cartoonist Scott Adams summed up the pay-it-forward principle when he said, “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
Decide which random act of kindness you want to perform on April 28. Your kind gesture, whether great or small, can touch a life more than you know … on April 28 and, better yet, each day.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.