Breaking The chain

September 22, 2022
Volume 26, Number 29

According to Yahoo News, Grace Brassel’s video on TikTok has gone viral, gathering over 2 million views. She tells about being told that her order at Starbucks was free, that someone in front of her had paid for it. Her first reaction was, “How nice!” But then the barista told her that she was part a “chain” of people paying for the customer behind them. Now it was her turn to pay for someone who would come after her.

Brassel decided to break the chain. She stated, “So you’re telling me that these people were shamed and caught into this conga line of morality that they had to give the gesture back? I’m not that girl. I deserve to have a good day. I deserve to have a free sandwich.” Most of the replies to her video that Yahoo reported were in full support of her decision.

Many of us will recognize this dynamic as “Pay it forward”. A person does a good deed for another with the understanding that the recipient of the favor will do something similar for another person. It has also been called “random acts of kindness”, an attempt to make the world a nicer place.

My first reaction to this story was to see Grace’s attitude as selfish. She was glad to receive a gift but unwilling to pass a gift on to someone else. Her comments that “I deserve …” seemed to confirm that assessment. But I must also point out that Grace acknowledged that “People are so kind” before making her other comments. I need to resist judging others on the basis of a comment or two.

Paying it forward is never a bad idea. It all begins with a grateful heart, a recognition that “You didn’t have to do that for me, but you did.” The absence of gratitude is a troubling sign; Romans 1:21 shows that: “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful …” Is it a coincidence that the description of such people spirals downward after that missing trait? When we don’t see God’s hand in our lives, we turn to other “gods”.

On the other hand, Grace points to a legitimate thought: What good is kindness if we feel we have been forced to do it? She considered the Starbucks episode to be a “conga line of morality” and falling in line with previous customers was what she had to do. But is that really what God wants?

Jesus spoke about what makes a good deed truly worthwhile: “But, when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3,4).

Why is Grace upset? Is it because she objects to others’ standards of morality being imposed on her? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when God shows us the right way to live, it’s not a “conga line of morality”, but both avoiding destructive behavior as well as enjoying abundant life (John 10:10). Instead of being angry at God telling us the right way to live, let us welcome His teachings.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2022, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

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