5 Elements of the Law of Reciprocity That Control Your Life


Reading Time: 14 minutes

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Gen 8:22 (Modern King James Version)

A man was driving down a road and he almost didn’t see the old lady, stranded on the side of the road. But even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or two. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe, he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold.

He knew how she felt. It was those chills which only fear can put in you.

He said, “I’m here to help you ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan.”

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire, but he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk.

She asked him how much she owed him.

Any amount would have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about the money.

This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past…He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance that they needed, and Bryan added “…and think of me”.

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her.

The cash register was like the telephone of an out of work actor – it didn’t ring much. Her waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude.

The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger.

Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal and the waitress went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, the lady slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back.

She wondered where the lady could be, and then she noticed something written on the napkin under which were 4 $100 bills. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote. It said,

“You don’t owe me anything, I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do:Do not let this chain of love end with you.”

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written.

How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard.

She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s gonna be all right; I love you, Bryan.”

Let’s face it; we all get what we give in some way or other. While this is a powerful Universal truth that would radically change almost every area of our lives, the sad thing is that too many people live without consciously being aware of it and purposefully applying it properly.

They go about sowing seeds of bitterness, rage, malice, judgment, hypocrisy, discord, jealousy and selfishness without giving a single thought to the fact that they will reap exactly the same type of fruit that they have sown and in abundance!

In Galatians we are told:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap”. (Galatians 6:7 MKJV)

Remember, this is a law of The Kingdom of God.

This governs every aspect of life. The reason why people don’t realize the awesome power of this law and fail to recognize its positive and negative effects in their personal lives is because they are ignorant of five inescapable elements that are tied to this law.

5 Elements of the Law of Reciprocity

1. We harvest according to the kind of seed that we plant.

What a man sows is followed by the universal law of “kind reproduces kind.” Let’s say that you planted a pear tree in your backyard. Would you expect to find oranges on that tree when it came time for harvest? Of course not, that would be crazy! Well, you don’t have to worry about that. You can rest assured that you will absolutely find pears on you pear tree!

In the same manner, if we sow seeds of, let’s say for example, gossip then we will quickly find out that people are hesitant to trust us and our very own friendships will suffer and crumble. People will not want to have anything to do with us and soon enough word will get around (gossip) that we like to talk about people.

Gossip is no good! It causes hard feelings and comes between friends. (Proverbs 16:28CEV)

It’s All About Cause and Effect

Every seed sown produces results, and every result tends to be of the kind that was sowed. Jesus confirms this truth in the book of Matthew:

“You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”. (Matthew 7:16-18 MKJV)

It is simply impossible to expect good results from bad actions. This is close to being insanity should a person think this way.

God’s plan of design for all life on earth, including humanity, is that we reproduce “after our kind” (Genesis 1:20-24). As true as this is in the biological and zoological world, it is also true in the spiritual world.

Adam and Eve had the capacity to sow and reap spiritual fruit from their fellowship and relationship with God, as well as the ability to plant and harvest in the Garden. The consequences of Adam’s disobedience to God in the Garden were both physical and spiritual death.

The idea of sowing and reaping both physically and spiritually is seen in John3:6,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”(John 3:6 MKJV)

Examples of the law of reaping “in kind” abound. When the Israelites sowed “the wind,” a phrase meaning the fleetingness and futility of a life without God, they reaped the “whirlwind” (Hosea 8:1-10).

When a man or woman “delights” in the Law of the Lord, and meditates day and night upon it, they will reap the blessings of God on their lives (Psalm 1).

When Haman prepared a gallows to kill the Jews, he himself gave up his life to the hangman (Esther 7:10).

When Jacob schemed and deceived his father and brother for the rights of the firstborn, he later reaped deception at the hand of Laban and his daughters (Genesis 29:20-26).

2. We reap more than what we sow.

Keeping with the example of the pear tree above, what happens when we plant that pear seed? In due time, the seed grows into a mature tree, which produces far more than just one pear. In all likelihood, it will produce many bushels of pears for many years.

When I was a kid, I remember that the trees by my house would produce these “helicopter” seeds. My friends and I loved playing with these seeds; throwing them into the air and watching them spin down. On windy days we would find ourselves chasing these little helicopter seeds for blocks, just throwing them up into the wind and then chasing them wherever the wind would carry them. I can easily understand now how these seeds would end up miles away from the original parent trees, and some, eventually finding some fertile soil, sprouting roots and producing a tree according to its kind of seed.

In the same way whatever we plant will spread and produce fruit of its kind.

In my business dealings, one of the things that I strive to always do is to give quality products and service to my clients and customers. I try to go well beyond what is expected of me. In doing so I believe that I am sowing seeds that will produce a good harvest for my business in the form of good word of mouth!

My clients and customers will tell other people about me and they will talk about me in a positive way.

The truth is that they will probably talk about me anyway, so I want to make sure that I serve them appropriately and in doing so I give them the content of their speech about me. This “word seed” will spread to others and they will catch wind of me, my products and services and they will tell other people about them according to the kind of experience they had with me.

Suppose someone plants a choice morsel of gossip into another’s ear. If that sin falls on fertile “soil” (a person with all the “right” tendencies for carrying it to others without regard to consequences), who knows how much destruction can be caused! If that person tells ten others and these in turn tell ten more, in three cycles one thousand people are involved in this sin! It is entirely possible that not even one person in that thousand would see himself as a cog in the process of spreading potential destruction!

I have seen men’s lives literally and completely destroyed because of someone else’s gossip about them. Later on God has allowed me to discover that the very same man whose life was derailed thru gossip had planted seeds of gossip and slander even years before his fall.

Many people are deceived on this matter. They wrongly assume that they will not have to face the consequences of the “daily seeds” they are planting. To hold such an inaccurate perspective is actually a mockery against God, who established this principle. “Do not be deceivedGod is not mocked.”

It’s actually quite simple: Since you reap more than you sow, you will reap an over abundance of negative things if you sow negative seeds. If you sow positive or good habits and good things, you will reap an over abundance of good things.

Now, you might say “It is not fair! It’s not fair that you attract an overabundance of negative things when you sow bad habits and bad things”.

I am the first to agree it is not fair.

I am also the first to say it is just the way it is, and it will not change. The law has been present for thousands of years and it will still be in effect long after you and I are gone. Whatever you sow you will reap in great quantities.

It is also not fair that we receive such a large return for sowing good habits, good things,
and good seeds. We are compensated incredibly for a little bit of consistent sowing. We reap a tremendous return for a little physical activity.

We receive abundantly from a little time invested consistently with our family and our children. With a little daily physical activity, we can drop weight. With a little savings of money each week we can become financially independent.

The return is huge compared to the small sacrifice or small amount of saving we must do!

3. It takes time to reap what you have sown.

If you planted the pear tree seed mentioned above today, would it be logical for you to expect that seed to sprout, grow and produce fruit tonight? Of course not, that would be just as crazy as expecting a pear tree to produce apples for you.

In Galatians we read:

But we should not lose heart in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if
we do not faint. (Galatians 6:9 MKJV)

Farmers are all too familiar with this element of the Law of Reciprocity. When a farmer plants a crop, they realize the importance of giving that crop time to mature and grow. They usually plant in one season and then gather the harvest in another season. One thing is for sure though; they expect to reap something later on!

“Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and the latter rain”. (James 5:7b MKJV)

Now, they don’t just sit and wait for the crop to grow, they actually do other things like water and nurture the seeds in order for them to reach their full potential. In the same way we need to “water” our seeds and “nurture” them (more on this in the next section).

Some people think that they can sow “wild oats” during the week, and then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure! They hope that their life-style won’t catch up with them, but it always does. What we sow, we will reap.

But this can be deceptive because we reap in a different season than when we plant. Plants don’t grow overnight, nor is wisdom gained overnight.

Because of the delay between planting and harvesting, we do not see immediate results. This delay causes us to think that we have gotten away with something wrong we have done.

Delayed reaping only encourages the sinner, and in this way, the cup of judgment is filled. We are oriented in our society to instant gratification – we want what we want when we want it.

We are trained to think short-term, not long-term in our modern age. Sin seems less serious because there are few apparent consequences.

But the Scripture says, Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

On the other hand, the delay between planting and harvesting can also be frustrating even when we have sown good things.

We must learn to “wait on the Lord,” as the Psalmist said in 130:5, 6:

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning, indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.”

Unfortunately, many Christians tend to operate on emotions, rather than faith, and they tend to lose hope in the interval between sowing good things and reaping the results. We must “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” or else we will lose hope.

4. The quality of the harvest depends on the quality of the soil.

In Mark chapter 4 we read the following:

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.

Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(Mark 4:3-9 ESV)

The “soil that Jesus is referring to in these verses is the condition, motives and  intentions of a person’s heart as we see in the verses that follow:

“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.

And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:14-20 ESV)

Let’s say that I was working for an employer and I became aware of an opportunity to advance up the corporate ladder. This opportunity was in management where I would be able to earn considerably more income than I am currently earning.

In pursuit of this new, very much welcomed opportunity I decide that I am going to try to impress my boss. I begin to be more kind and helpful to my fellow workers so they see that I am a team player, I also begin to come in earlier and leaving a little later so that all can see that I am a hard worker and worthy of the position.

However, the reality is that I just want to get the promotion in order to get the pay raise, have the “clout” to come in half an hour later to work and delegate the extra responsibilities to others without me doing anything.

Although my seed seems good since at first I’m acting kindly and becoming part of the team, the soil (my intention) is bad. So, instead of reaping kindness, I will become the victim of someone else’s con just like my boss and co-workers did.

In the next chapter “The Law of Sacrifice” we are going to look further into this.

There are a few practical issues to be addressed at this point in our study:

(a) Choose good seed to sow (the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control);

(b) Prepare your fields carefully (relevant and precise information about your life choices);

(c) Give your crops ample room to grow (life brings many opportunities our way: some are bad, some are good, some are better, and some are best. Spend most of your time in the “best” activities that the Lord has planned for you);

(d) Water and fertilize as necessary (invest prayer time and Bible study and further good stewardship in to your opportunities to sow);

(e) Kill off the pests that would destroy your plants (bad attitudes and bad influences, 1 Corinthians 15:33);

(f) Support your plants as needed (appreciation, gratitude, communication, help);

(g) Uproot Weeds frequently (keep short accounts of sin); and

(h) Never tramp mud into the house (don’t whine and complain about life’s problems, start sowing good things now!).

Most soil has the potential for producing a good harvest, as long as it receives some attention from the gardener.

In the parable we shared earlier, Jesus addressed the issue of the quality of soils, and in this parable, the soil is a picture of the human heart (Mark 4:3-20).

The Lord mentioned three main problems in maintaining good soil in a human heart:

(a) Hardness, which is connected with spiritual warfare;

(b) Rockiness, which is connected with an unwillingness to suffer difficulties for the sake of having God’s good things in your life; and

(c) Prickliness, which is connected with materialism and the anxiety that always accompanies the accumulation of things.

Harvests show up gradually.

Jesus spoke of the harvest being gradual in Mark 4:28:

“And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how. For the earth brings out fruit of itself, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full grain in the ear. But when the fruit has been brought out, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come”.
(Mark 4:26-29 MKJV)

I remember when I was partaking in certain classes at my local church and my teacher was speaking about reaping and sowing. He shared a personal testimony about his financial increases. He revealed to all of us there that one day he and his wife were sitting down getting ready to do their taxes and they noticed that in the last seven years prior their income had grown by about 100% each year. They were now bringing in seven times more money than they were just seven short years earlier!

He attributed this financial increase to his learning and applying the Law of Reciprocity.

But he also admitted that he had not noticed the increase until now when he took inventory of his financial growth.

No Seed Time, No Harvest Time

Harvest or reaping does not respond to prayer, praise, crying, or fasting. God’s principle is that harvest responds only to seed. Where there is lack of sowing there will be no harvest.

But the reality is that in most aspects of our lives there is no lack of planting seeds. The problem lies that we are not aware that we are planting seeds and therefore not aware of the type and quality of seeds being planted!

Let me make a statement and you can think about it:

The life you have now is the result of seeds you have previously sown.

How does that make you feel?

The seeds planted today are the harvests of tomorrow.

If you focus on productive sowing everyday, your life will change dramatically. It won’t change overnight like most of us want. We all want everything yesterday. We live in an instant society. We want it all now; money, wealth, power, physical health, peace of mind, the love and respect of others.

It’s pretty hard to liposuction out the bad habits of life today.

But, if you start now, things will change for you. It will change in a season just like the seed of a farmer. Be patient, it will take a season, not overnight. Keep going once you start with the assurance that your career, your life your family and your health will get better.

Do not wait to let another season pass you by.

Start planting and sowing today do not wait do it now!


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