Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Paying it forward...

Have you heard that phrase? In recent times, it has become a more commonly used phrase especially in the corporate world. Well, did you know that it's a very old phrase? Although Wikipedia cited older uses of the phrase, these ones stuck a cord with me:

"Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his 1841 essay Compensation wrote: "In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."
In 1916, Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, "You don't pay love back; you pay it forward.""*

According to the Urban Dictionary: the phrase means "when someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else."**

When you look at the definition of the phrase, you'll see it has some root in the Golden rule: 
So always; [So in everything] 
Do to others what [Treat others as] you want them to do to [treat] you.***

This scripture and then the "paying it forward" phrase dropped in my heart late last year - when I was blessed with a time of retreat and rest. In addition to rest, it was a great time for refreshment and reflection. The more I meditated on the verse, it was obvious that God expects us to always be proactively good and kind to others - not because of what we expect from them (in return). Note that the verse doesn't say: "Do to others as they or others have done to you" - that will be a "garbage rule."

There are at least 2 lessons to note from this verse and phrase:
  • We really don't have any control over how others will (want to or) actually treat us - but we have absolute control over how we treat others. 
  • We must never treat people the way they (or others) treated us - we should treat them how we want to be treated...hopefully even better than they (or others) treated us.
The wisest man who ever lived put it this way:
The merciful, kind, and generous man benefits himself [for his deeds return to bless him], but he who is cruel and callous [to the wants of others] brings on himself retribution.****
It may seem that you're doing others a favour when you are kind to them or paying it forward, the truth is you are really being kind to yourself and your generations to come...

“I hope the fruits of my labor are ripe for many generations to come.” ~ Donovan Nichols

The Bible is replete with examples of people who benefited from their parents' kindness***** or vice versa. Indeed, kindness is a seed which we must never stop planting, trusting God that our children, grandchildren and further will eat the fruits of those seeds. Stay kind...


References:

*** Matthew 7:12a - Expanded Bible
**** Proverbs 11:17 - Amplified
***** 2 Samuel 9: 1 - David asked, “Is there anyone left in Saul’s family to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (Amplified)

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