Spiritual Law of Reciprocity
(Reading time: 2.3 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 as we give, such as mercy (Matt. 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 (Matt. 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 Cor. 9:6); or we’ll receive from others in proportion to our generosity (Luke 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. Most 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. The law will still work if we’re motivated by selfishness, but that attitude definitely wouldn’t please God and he wouldn’t 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’s 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 him, he can entrust us with more and will increase our return (see Matt. 25:21, 23; Luke 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 limit the results we receive. But as we learn to serve God and people in humility, he’s free to bless us with more than we need to excel in what we do and to be generous to others (2 Cor. 9:8, 11).