We hear much about reciprocity these days, particularly regarding the unbalanced exchange. So, what does it mean?
Reciprocity means: "Exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, and responding to a positive action with another positive action."
Reciprocity is a prevalent social norm that says that if I give something to you or help you in any way, you will be obliged to return the favor.
This norm is so dominant, it allows the initial giver to:
Ask for something in return, rather than having to wait for a voluntary reciprocal act.
Ask for more than was given. You can even exchange a smile for money.
Reciprocity also works at the level of liking. We like people who like us and dislike those who dislike us. It can create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Does the Bible have anything to say about this concept? Yes! It is full of this idea that you get back what you give or do, although the word reciprocity is never used.
The Lord's prayer says, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12). So there is a reciprocal benefit in our forgiving, as we are taught to pray for forgiveness in the same measure as we forgive. What it means is, it is dangerous to our soul to harbor unforgiveness. Wow!
The Bible also says, "in the same way you judge others; you will be judged" (Matthew 7:2). Here again, if we judge harshly, then we can expect to be judged harshly. We dare not take such a risk; we must leave the judging to God.
Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Here again, is a reciprocal benefit.
Proverbs 11:24 says, "One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." Divine reciprocity.
Galatians 6:7-8: "God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. The one who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." Reciprocity.
It is a principle that reflects 'just-ness,' and it works!
Jesus said in Luke 9:26, "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed." Reciprocity. I never want to be ashamed of my love for and faith in Jesus.
Finally, in the sermon on the mount, Jesus told us to do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12). It should be the measure of all our actions. Note that Jesus doesn't tell us to do to others as they do to you. The word would make all the difference. In treating others as you would have them treat you, not as they are treating you, you are setting yourself up for forgiveness, for blessing, and for closeness with Jesus, who also forgives us not according to our sins.
Jesus simplified the Ten Commandments down to two easy to understand sentences: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). These are the two greatest commandments.
To summarize this, I would say, "LOVE," selfless love, should be the Christian reciprocity.
Based on Lord Robert (Bob) Edmiston founded Christian Vision in 1988, inspired by his faith to use his business acumen and resources to contribute to Christian ministry on a global scale. He actively determines CV's strategic priorities, and his businesses continue to fund the organization's projects around the world.