Pay it Forward

Exhortation by Scarlett Stough

In the movie Pay it Forward*, a young boy is suffering problems in his home and trying to avoid them at school. After a social studies teacher inspires him through a class assignment, the boy plans a method to change the world. He would do something to help three other people; in turn, each of those three people would help three other people until everyone in the world was affected by it.

The boy doesn’t see the change in the three people he tried to help, so he thinks that he has failed. Yet, this movement spread beyond his town to other towns. He didn’t change the world, but he set in motion a movement that changed individuals.

There is a real life pay-it-forward movement begun by a young Jewish man in a small occupied nation. He began a movement which “overcomes evil with good.”** Those who accept his help are obligated to help others without expectation of reimbursement. This movement has spread throughout the world. Sometimes, we think it has failed because the world seems to grow more evil and individuals fail to live up to our expectations. Yet, individuals have accepted his help and are changing for the better. Lives are being saved physically and spiritually. Those lives are affecting the lives of others.

The people the boy tried to help were on the bottom of the class system of this world’s societies. The young Jewish man also began with the lowest-those who needed help the most. It is to be hoped that you have already realized this man is Jesus of Nazareth-a Galilean whose “kingdom is not of this world.” He promised to return to complete the change he began two millennia ago. In the meantime, it is up to those who have accepted his help to continue to pay it forward. Just as the fictional boy suffered in the movie, so Jesus the Christ suffered in his work to change the world one person at a time. And so do those who continue the movement he started. Although the work is hard, requires sacrifice, and has few rewards in this life, ultimately the movement will succeed.

The social studies assignment was: “ Think of an idea to change the world-and put it into action.” The assignment Jesus gave is: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”***

*The movie, based on a novel, is rated PG-13 because of the street language and what is called “adult themes.” It does not promote the biblical values of clean speech or sexual morality. Some parents might want to use it as a teaching or discussion aid with older teens, especially those already exposed to these evils of society.

**Romans 12:21

***Matthew 25:40