Have you ever pulled up to a drive-thru window to find that the person in the car in front of you had already paid for your order?

When I worked at Starbucks, I was always surprised when someone would start a “pay-it-forward” chain.

The next person would pull up to the window, try to hand me their money and then usually stare at me in shock when I told them the person in front of them had paid for part of or even all of their order.

The initial surprise would then morph into a smile and they’d usually offer to pay for the person behind them.

Sometimes this would go on for an impressive 15 or more cars, until one person would inevitably respond with, “Oh really? That’s nice,” grab his order and drive off.

I share the same self-centered nature as Mr. End the Chain, so I get it.

I understand that the world is fallen and that humanity is sinful. And because of that, selfishness is the norm and kindness is the exception.

So why did all those customers willingly pay for a stranger’s order? And what about the person who started the chain?

He made the biggest sacrifice by paying for another’s order in addition to his own.

I sometimes hear people cite “good karma” as a motivation for performing random acts of kindness. But even karma’s supposed “cause and effect” is rooted in selfishness.

They do a good deed in hopes of one being returned to them down the road.

As a follower of Christ, my love for others should not be tainted with selfishness. My motivation should freely flow from the daily, unrelenting outpouring of love that I receive from my Father.

Most of us know passages like I Corinthians 13 by heart, so why do we find it so difficult to be patient? To be kind? To be humble, unselfish, longsuffering and forgiving?

The obvious answer is that our flesh is strong. And that’s true, but there’s more to the story. God’s love has set us free. Despite our flesh, we are free to choose to love.

In my experience, loving others takes a great deal of conscious effort. And to be completely transparent, I don’t always make that effort.

But between classes, work, coffee runs and QT trips, I interact with hundreds of people each day. And you probably do too. Translation? Lots of opportunities to love.

Some of the crankiest customers I encountered at Starbucks were the impatient families well dressed in suits and skirts coming through the drive-thru on Sunday mornings, clearly on their way to church.

My heart dropped a little every time I heard one of my coworkers comment on how ironic it was that churchgoers could be so rude to others.

Those instances always reminded me that even brief interactions have the power to turn someone toward or away from Jesus.

Look for ways to love others, not because you’ll get anything in return, not to be recognized, not to feel good about yourself and not to check off your “good deed of the day.”

But because you love Jesus and He loves you.

If every single one of us actively searched for ways to spread Christlike love each day, think of how much influence we could have on both our family in Christ and those who’ve yet to experience Jesus’ love.

How will you love today?