This is where we left off:
If a good deed is done with a heart that discounts God's personal sovereignty and care over the world, it is done in vain. We were not created to manage God's world for Him.
Those two statements help me to understand my own thought process concerning the "pay it forward" lifestyle, so let me elaborate on what I mean.
God's Sovereignty and Care
Nobody does a good deed just for the sake of doing a good deed.
There are a million ways to look at that statement and try to disprove it, but I think I've come up with a pretty simple way of showing its validity.
There are two types of people in the world: those who are in Christ and those who are not.
People who are in Christ, those that love Jesus, do what they do with a purpose -- to serve Him. That is why Christians are called "slaves" (1 Cor 7:22, Col 4:12, 2 Tim 2:24).
People who are not in Christ, those that don't truly love Jesus, also do what they do with a purpose -- to serve themselves. This does not necessarily mean that everything a non-Christian does is done out of selfish motives; however, it at least implies that what they do is done for a person (or people) other than Christ.
So this is the perspective I want to communicate:
- Jesus saves people
- Those people serve Jesus and others
- Their service is done do bring glory back to Jesus
- Some people are not saved
- Those people serve themselves and others
- Their service is done to bring glory back to themselves and/or others
When a non-Christian does a good deed (either for himself or others), he is doing it in spite of obedience to Jesus.
That's it. It's really that simple.
In my first post I said, "God sees no human interaction as just a spiritually-neutral effort..." and I stick to that statement.
Bringing this back full circle to the whole "pay it forward" concept, it should be noted that the idea is a Jesus-less effort to make the world a better place. And that leads me to my next point...
We're Not the Managers
In Charles Ryrie's definition of Dispensationalism (which is really neither here nor there), he explains the theology by stating this:
Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. In His household world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation in the passage of time.
(Dispensationalism, Charles Ryrie, Moody Press, 1995, page 25)
I agree with this understanding of how the world works. God created a world knowing full well what would happen in the beginning, in the end, and everywhere in between. Not only did God know about the involvement humans would have in the world, but He knew of His own involvement and how He would sovereignly interact with humankind.
To a non-believer, that's just hogwash.
Those opposed to a biblical Creator see the world as a household that belongs to mankind alone. There is no God who has a rightful ownership over all things. There is no reason to have faith in anyone but ourselves to take care of this earth. We are the ones in control and the future lies in our hands alone.
And this is the big picture of paying it forward.
Once again, I feel like I need to say it, "paying it forward" seems like such a harmless and even positive thing to push against. However, the ideology behind it is, at its core, godless.
When a good deed is done for the sake of paying it forward, the motivation behind it is to make the world a better place. Period. That concept implies that it is our job (or duty) to improve the health of the world.
But that's not true!
Our duty is to submit to Jesus Christ and live a life that glorifies and honors Him. He gives us responsibilities that fall under our stewardship, but ultimately the stewarding of that which He gives is a way of bringing the glory back to Him.
God is the One who is in charge of handling the totality of the world's affairs -- our job is to use the little He's given us to spread His fame.
So I hope this rightfully illustrated what I see as the two main flaws of paying it forward from a Christian perspective. God sovereignly cares for this world and He does not need us to pay "it" forward on His behalf. Our job -- our only job -- is to live our lives for Christ and trust Him with everything else.