Spiritual Law of Reciprocity
Description: We receive what we need to the same degree we give or do something for someone else. (Reading time: 2.4 minutes)
The Law of Reciprocity, also known as the Law of Sowing and Reaping, allows us to receive as a result of what we give or do. Scripture makes it clear we might receive the same thing we give, such as mercy (Mt 5:7). Or we might not receive in kind, such as receiving what we need from God in exchange for making his kingdom our top priority (Mt 6:33). Typically, however, we receive to the same degree we give. For example, if we sow more seed, we get a larger harvest (2 Co 9:6); or we’ll receive from others in proportion to our generosity (Lk 6:38).
The following gives powerful examples of reciprocity: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal 6:7-10, ESV) Notice the warning that God isn’t mocked, that reciprocity applies to everyone.
Invariably, discussion of the Law of Reciprocity leads to talk about money; how we receive in proportion to our giving or generosity. Almost all of us struggle with a mercenary approach to giving: If I give, then I’ll get. It should be obvious, however, such thoughts are the result of self-centered thinking, trying to use God’s laws for personal advantage. I suggest the law will still work if we’re motivated by selfishness, but God definitely would not be pleased with that attitude and would not add to what we receive.
Here’s the beauty of this law: If we give or serve selflessly, simply trusting God to take care of us as he thinks is appropriate, then he is free to increase what the Law of Reciprocity would normally return to us. That is, if we prove ourselves faithful by using whatever resources we have to serve in a manner that honors God, he can entrust us with more and will increase our return (see Mt 25:21, 23; Lk 6:38).
When we give or serve, we set spiritual forces in motion and we’ll experience the results, whether we receive in kind or not. Selfishness and greed are inappropriate, so they will limit the results we receive. On the other hand, as we develop godly character and learn to serve God and people in humility, he is free to bless us with far more than we need to excel in every good work and increase our resources so we can be generous on every occasion (2 Co 9:8, 11).