What could we do to better live the kind of lives that God would have us to live? Back in 2000, a movie titled Pay It Forward hit the theaters. In the movie, when eleven and a half year old Trevor McKinney begins seventh grade in Las Vegas, Nevada, his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. And as Christians, isn’t that what we are trying to do? Anyway, Trevor’s plan is a charitable program based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan “Pay It Forward,” which means the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others rather than paying the favor back.
Trevor’s school assignment marks the beginning of the story’s chronology, but the opening scene in the film shows one of the later favors in the “Pay It Forward” tree, in which a man gives a car to Los Angels journalist Chris Chandler. As the film proceeds, Chandler traces the chain of favors back to its origin as Trevor’s school project. And after a long list of favors, Chandler finally identifies Trevor as the originator of “Pay It Forward” and conducts a recorded interview in which Trevor describes his hopes and concerns for the project.
As the movie comes to an end, Trevor notices his friend Adam being bullied by some older kids, and decides to “Pay It Forward” to Adam by rushing into the scene and trying to fight the bullies off. But one of the bullies takes a knife out of his pocket, and Trevor is then accidentally pushed into the knife and is stabbed in the abdomen. Trevor consequently dies at the hospital. This news is reported on television nationwide. And soon, Trevor’s mom and the teacher are visited by hundreds of people who have participated in the “Pay It Forward” movement. In a scene echoing the finale of Field Of Dreams, these people, all bearing candles and/or flowers, gather in a vigil to pay Trevor their respects. Hundreds more approach the McKinney house, their headlights stretching up the main highway as far as the eye can see.
But here’s the thing, Trevor wasn’t the first to think of this “Pay It Forward” movement. He was about two thousand years too late. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Want to talk about “Paying It Forward!” Romans 5:8 tells us that, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So…, as we head into the holiday season, perform a few acts of kindness yourself. Because of what God has done for you, it’s time that you “Pay It Forward!”