Have you seen the quote floating around Instagram and Pinterest these days? “All I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.” While I don’t necessarily believe that is theologically sound, I can relate to the sentiment. So, in light of that, it was not completely unusual to find me in the drive-thru line at my neighborhood Starbucks one Friday morning. While waiting in line, I felt a nudge in my heart to pay for the orders of the two cars behind me. The barista smiled, took my payment for the orders, handed me my latte, and I drove away. I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about the two cars behind me and what they must have thought. I wondered who the people were and what their days held. I prayed God would use my small gesture to demonstrate His love and grace to them.
About a week later, the same barista took my order for coffee. She told me how my act of kindness the week before encouraged seven more customers to pay it forward. Each person had bought coffee for the person behind them. Okay, you have to admit… that is pretty awesome!
As I thought more about it, the Holy Spirit began to show me how much He wants to do in and through us. If we will be obedient to the nudges He puts in our hearts, there is no end to how far reaching an impact it can have on others. Sure, a pay-it-forward chain of coffee-love is fun, but God wants to do something of eternal worth and significance through us.
Two cups of coffee grew into seven more cups of coffee. I wonder what the ripple effect of our obedience to God in all matters must look like in the light of eternity. What might one act of sacrifice or generosity make way for God to do?
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger” (Proverbs 11:24, MSG). When we use the gifts, talents, skills, expertise, or resources God has put in our hands, we may not fully grasp or realize how God can use the seed of kindness and generosity to reach people near and far. Whether we realize it or not, our world – and even our sphere of Godly influence – grows when we are generous and obedient.
God is less concerned with the size, scope, or amount of our giving as He is with the state of our heart behind it. “God loves when the giver delights in the giving” (2 Corinthians 9:7, MSG). I believe it pleases Him to see us take a step of faith to respond in obedience, because He knows what He can do with a willing, yielded heart; and He rejoices to bring great things to pass through us.
God has put something in each of us that is meant to be poured out into other people’s lives. Perhaps it means we decide to make a commitment to sow our time or resources into a ministry or outreach. It may involve something simple like paying for the order of the person behind you in line. Maybe it is sharing your testimony or the message of salvation with a neighbor or friend. There are several stories where the impact of one person’s obedience in sharing their testimony of what Jesus had done for them, led to the salvation of another person… and that person went on to lead many others to a saving knowledge of Christ. You never know who might be on the other side of your simple act of obedience. Whatever it is, God can take one act of obedience and cause it to ripple outward to be a benefit to others and to bring glory to His name.
I love the reminder in this scripture: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT). You may think your life, your simple act of obedience is too small to make a difference, but God specializes in taking our little and turning it into much. What you might not ever see are the people whose lives are touched from your act of obedience, lives that are affected in such a way they are also encouraged to make a difference in their world as well. This is what happened at the drive-thru. People observed the generosity of others before them, and it inspired them to carry it forward. It’s not even about “you” at that point; it is about what God wants to do through you. It takes the pressure off you, your ability, or your contribution, and allows you simply to bring what you have to the Lord and let Him use it and multiply it outward. Perhaps it really can be that simple. A little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. When He is involved, the ripple effect can go beyond today, beyond what we would assume is likely or possible, and He can do something through our little that has the potential to impact generations to come.
As we set our hearts on following the leading of the Holy Spirit and do what He puts in our hearts to do, we will begin to see more and more instances of a ripple effect of His love and goodness at work in our lives. He looks for us to respond to His nudge and operate in obedience. When we do, we find Jesus takes our little and turns it into much more.