The Principle of Reciprocity – Whenever you do good, it returns to you
The Holy Bible is the word of God revealed to men. In it we find teachings, guidelines, promises and warnings to live according to the will of God. One of the central themes of the Bible is God’s love for us and our love for our neighbor. Jesus summed up all the law and the prophets in two commandments: love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).
But what does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? How can we demonstrate this love in practice? And what are the benefits of living a life of love and kindness? In this Bible study, we will explore these questions in the light of the Holy Bible, seeking to understand what God expects of us and how we can please him in our attitudes.
We will explore the principle of reciprocity, which states that whenever we do good to someone else, that kindness eventually returns to us. This principle is a manifestation of God’s love and grace in our lives, and the Bible teaches us about the importance of living generously and lovingly toward others.
Reciprocity does not mean that we will receive something in return immediately or in the same measure, but it emphasizes that as we plant seeds of kindness and generosity, we will reap fruit in God’s time. Let’s examine scripture passages that will help us better understand this principle and motivate us to live a life of love and service to others.
1. Doing good to others
The first step in experiencing the principle of reciprocity is to do good to others. When we extend love, kindness and service to others, we are following the example of Jesus Christ and living according to biblical teachings.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be given to you; for with the same measure that you measure, they will measure you again.” In this verse, Jesus encourages us to give generously and to do good to others. He promises that we will receive back a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. This means that God’s generosity far exceeds ours, and He blesses us abundantly when we are generous to others.
Other related verses:
- Proverbs 11:25: “A generous soul will prosper, and he who listens will also be answered.”
- Proverbs 19:17: “He who has mercy on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him.”
These verses reinforce the idea that when we sympathize with those in need, when we give and serve others, God blesses and repays us.
2. The Harvest of Kindness
The principle of reciprocity also applies to the harvest of kindness. Just as a farmer sows seeds and reaps a bountiful harvest, when we sow good deeds, we will reap the fruits of goodness in our lives.
Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in doing good, because in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” In this stretch, the apostle Paul reminds us that we will reap what we sow. If we sow seeds in the flesh, that is, if we act in accordance with selfish and sinful desires, we will reap corruption and its consequences. However, if we sow to the Spirit, that is, if we seek to live according to God’s principles and follow the path of righteousness, we will reap eternal life.
Paul also encourages us not to get tired of doing good, even if we don’t immediately see results. He reminds us that, in God’s right time, we will reap the fruits of our goodness and faithfulness. Therefore, we must persevere and keep doing good, trusting that God is faithful to fulfill his promises.
Other related verses:
- Psalm 126:5-6: “Those who sow in tears will reap in joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
These verses show us that even when we face difficulties and trials while planting seeds of kindness, God is able to turn our tears into joy. He promises us that those who sow in faith and perseverance will reap bountifully and rejoice.
- Proverbs 22:9: “The generous will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
This verse emphasizes that generosity results in blessings. When we share what we have with those in need, God blesses us in return.
3. The supreme example of love and reciprocity
The greatest expression of the principle of reciprocity is found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the supreme example of love, generosity and service to others. In His life and death, Jesus demonstrated God’s love in an unparalleled way.
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus set the ultimate example of love by sacrificing His own life for us on the cross. He gave everything out of love for us, his friends. This act of unconditional love and sacrifice is at the heart of the gospel and reveals to us the generous heart of God.
Ephesians 5:2: “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a fragrant aroma.” This verse exhorts us to follow Christ’s example and walk in love, just as He loved us and gave Himself up for us. We must offer our lives as living sacrifices, living for the sake of others.
1 John 3:16: “By this we know love, that Christ laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” This verse reinforces Jesus’ example of love and sacrifice, challenging us to follow in his footsteps and be willing to lay down our lives in service and love for others.
4. The promise of reward
The Bible assures us that when we live by the principle of reciprocity and do good to others, God not only blesses us abundantly, but also promises eternal rewards. These rewards go beyond earthly blessings and extend to eternal life with God.
Matthew 10:42 “And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
In this verse, Jesus points out that even the smallest act of kindness and service to others will not go unnoticed by Him. Those who are generous and considerate to those in need will receive their eternal reward.
Matthew 6:4: “so that your alms may be given in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will himself publicly reward you.” This passage teaches us that when we do good deeds in secret, God, who sees what we do in secret, will reward us publicly.
Revelation 22:12: “And, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give each one according to his work.” This promise of Jesus reminds us that He will return and bring with Him the reward to reward each person according to His works. This shows that our acts of kindness and service are not in vain, but have eternal significance.
What is love of neighbor?
Love of neighbor is an expression of God’s love in us. It is a feeling and an action that seeks the good of the other, without expecting anything in return. It is a reflection of the grace of God, who first loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). The love of neighbor is not based on the qualities or defects of the other, but on the image of God that he carries. The love of neighbor makes no distinction between people, but treats everyone with respect and dignity, as children of God.
The love of neighbor manifests itself in different ways, according to the needs and opportunities that arise. We can love our neighbor with words of encouragement, with gestures of affection, with acts of generosity, with intercessory prayers, with forgiveness and reconciliation, with fraternal correction, with humble service, with mutual cooperation, with defense of justice, with sharing the gospel, etc. .
Love of neighbor is not limited to our friends and family, but extends to strangers, the needy, enemies and those who persecute us.
“You have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven; For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you do more? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48).
Love of neighbor is a commandment of God and a mark of true disciples of Jesus. Anyone who loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:21). Anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20). Whoever loves his brother abides in the light and does not stumble (1 John 2:10). Whoever does not love his brother is in darkness and does not know where he is going (1 John 2:11). Whoever loves his brother fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Anyone who does not love his brother is a murderer and does not have eternal life (1 John 3:15).
How can we develop love for others?
Loving our neighbor is not something natural or easy for us. We are inclined to selfishness, indifference, envy, anger, revenge and violence. Therefore, we need God’s help to develop love of neighbor in our hearts. Here are some biblical tips for this:
– Recognize that we are loved by God. The first step to loving your neighbor is to understand how much you are loved by God. He created us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), chose us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), redeemed us by the blood of his Son (Ephesians 1:7), adopted us as his children (Ephesians 1:5), sealed us with his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), blessed us with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), and prepared a place for us in eternal glory (John 14:2-3). When we recognize God’s love for us, we are motivated to love others too, because we know that they too are the objects of his love.
– Ask God to fill us with his love. Love of neighbor is not the fruit of our human effort, but of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. He is the one who pours out the love of God into our hearts (Romans 5:5). He is the one who produces in us the fruit of love, along with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, we need to ask God to fill us with his Spirit and his love every day, so that we can overflow that love to others.
– Practicing love of neighbor in small things. Love of neighbor is not limited to grand gestures or heroic sacrifices. He reveals himself in the little things of everyday life, in the opportunities we have to do good to those around us. We can practice loving our neighbor by being kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32), bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2), forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32), building up each other with words that minister grace (Ephesians 4:29), serving one another in love (Galatians 5:13), bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), being hospitable to one another (Hebrews 13:2), praying for one another (James 5:16), etc.
– Imitate the example of Jesus and his servants. The best way to learn to love your neighbor is to look to Jesus and follow in his footsteps. He is our perfect model of love. He loved his disciples to the end (John 13:1). He washed his disciples’ feet as a lowly servant (John 13:4-17). He willingly gave himself up on the cross for our sins (John 10:18). He prayed for his enemies at the time of his death (Luke 23:34). He forgave their executioners and welcomed them into paradise (Luke 23:43). He rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples with words of peace (John 20:19-21).
– In addition to Jesus, we can be inspired by the examples of many other servants of God who showed love for their neighbor in difficult situations.
We can think of Abraham, who interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, even knowing their corruption (Genesis 18:22-33).
Joseph, who forgave his brothers who sold him into slavery and gave them food in the time of famine (Genesis 45:1-15).
Moses, who endured the murmurings of the people of Israel and interceded for them before God several times (Numbers 14:11-20).
David, who spared the life of Saul, his enemy, when he had the opportunity to kill him (1 Samuel 24:1-22).
Esther, who risked her life to save her people from extermination (Esther 4:15-17).
Daniel, who remained faithful to God even under the threat of lions (Daniel 6:10-23).
Paul, who preached the gospel to the Gentiles with love and dedication, facing many persecutions and sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
– When we imitate these examples of love for our neighbor, we are doing God’s will and glorifying his name. We are also sowing good seeds that will bear fruits of justice and peace. The good we do to others always comes back to us, whether in this life or in eternity.
God does not forget our works of love and will reward us according to his grace (Hebrews 6:10). Therefore, we must not get tired of doing good, for in the right time we will reap, if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9).
In this Bible study, we explore the principle of reciprocity, which teaches us that whenever we do good to others, that good returns to us. Through biblical passages, we saw the importance of doing good, sowing kindness and serving others, following the example of Jesus Christ.
While reciprocity does not always mean immediate or equal retribution, we can be confident that God is faithful to His promises. He encourages us to persevere in doing good, even when we face difficulties or don’t see immediate results. At the right time, God will bless us and reward us according to his promises.
May we live a life of love, generosity and service to others, trusting that God will honor our commitment to sow good. In doing so, we will experience the joy of being instruments in God’s hands to bless the lives of others and testify of His transforming love.
May we continue to seek God in prayer and daily study of the Scriptures, that we may grow in our understanding of His will and be more effective in sowing good and serving others.
Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching us the importance of sowing good and serving others. Help us to live according to the principle of reciprocity, trusting that even when we don’t see immediate results, You are faithful to Your promises. Give us courage and strength to persevere in doing good, even in the face of difficulties and challenges. May we be instruments of Your love and goodness in this world, testifying to Your transforming love. In Jesus name, amen.