"In early July 2009 a woman pulled up in the drive-thru at the Steamin Bean coffee shop in Blue Springs, Montana. She bought her coffee and insisted on paying for the driver in the car behind. Within a week over 1300 people had done the same thing. It's happening in other places too.
Stories of random kindness are not new. The whole idea was beautifully told in the film Pay it Forward - well worth an evening; tissues needed. But two things struck me about this one. First, no one wanted to break the circle of generosity. Once we embrace it giving is deeply attractive, compelling. Secondly, generosity is more than giving money. To be sure, giving money is the hallmark of generosity but generosity is richer: an awareness of others, the freedom to let go when the world says hold on to it, an attitude to all we have.
In a church in Manchester I sat under a 'freecycle' board where stuff, good stuff, was not ebayed but given away free to those who need it. Leading seminars at New Wine, as the rain came down in stair rods, I saw stewards, unpaid and giving up a week of their holidays, parking cars, marshalling crowds; soaked to the skin but with the light of grace in their eyes.
Because giving is first and foremost about grace. At the Steamin' Bean someone set the ball rolling; someone gave first. Paul knew this. In 2 Cor 8:1-3 he tells the Corinthians not about the money that the Macedonians gave but the grace given first to them. He then points to the fountain of all grace: You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich for you he became poor that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).
By Steve Pierce
- Is there a circle of generosity in your family, church, friendships?
- Are you helping to make it...or break it?
- Can you find an opportunity to pay it forward, today? tomorrow? Sunday?
- Someone gave first; we all have to receive: are we too proud, too embarrassed?"