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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reciprocity in the Bible?


I don't actually recall that word being in the Bible. Perhaps it is not! However actual words do not have be in the Bible for the principle to be expressed.

Reciprocity is defined as: 1: the quality or state of being reciprocal : mutual dependence, action, or influence, 2: a mutual exchange of privileges [Merriam-Webster]

I actually like the way the Wiki
says it better. It says Ethic of reciprocity, the "Golden Rule" principle in ethics and religion.

Unfortunately I seldom hear of the Golden Rule anymore even in churches.

And in schools, it is much too controversial. Although it is okay to say "What goes around, comes around", or "What goes up, must come down." I guess it is just too religious to say that
we should treat others the way we wish to be treated. Yes I can see that some would be offended by that statement, especially those who do not practise it!

Where is the Golden Rule found in the Bible? Is the principle even there?

Do you recall Jesus declaring what the two great commandments are?
  1. We are to love God with all our hearts, mind and soul and
  2. We are to love others the way we love ourselves.
The Golden rule comes from the Second Great Commandment and then Jesus states that upon those two hang all the law and the prophets.

In other words, if you memorize every one of the Jewish laws and practised them perfectly, you would actually fulfill the Two Great Commandments. But since only one has ever done that, God gives us a chance to AT LEAST treat our fellow human beings as we treat ourselves.

Does that shake things up a bit? I have to ask myself, "Do I treat ALL others as I treat myself?" Ouch!

Is that why we do not hear it much anymore? Perhaps we don't like the pinch!

But regardless, shouldn't we ask ourselves that question?

After all if "All the law and the prophets hang on it", should we really leave them hanging?

Or should we be acting on it as a faithful hearer of the Word. Remember what James says about those who hear the word and do not do it?

The Message Bible puts it this way,

22 -24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

26 -27Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

Did I hear another "Ouch!"?

It is not just in these few verses. It occurs throughout the Bible. What do you think the expression 'whatever we sow, we will reap' means? Reciprocity. The Golden Rule. Second Great Commandment. What goes up, must come down. What goes around, comes around.

So what is it that you would like to come around? Then I suggest that YOU, ME and ALL of US make sure that what we send around is what we would want to come around!

It's a principle set up by God. It is built into the fabric of life on earth.

But do we hear him saying it to us? Or are we not in the group called "those that have ears to hear, let them hear!"

Is God speaking?

What do we want to come around?

What are we SENDING around?

Do we really want others to treat us the way we treat them?

[I wrote this after doing some meditating on the topic. It has been a hard year starting last fall expecially since our pension is in the market and the market took a nosedive. I am not crying out for "sympathy". Just stating facts. Even though on the surface I have it all together, I have caught myself saying some of the stupidest things in the last few months. You know those things that you wish you could stop time for and grab the words, put them back in the mouth and chew them up? I know God is our source. I know all the facts. But somewhere inside there must be a kettle brewing. And I think the stupid things are steam escaping. I hope none of you got singed as it went past you. If you did, I humbly apologize. If you didn't get burned, Praise the Lord!]

References from the Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
Ethic of reciprocity, the "Golden Rule" principle in ethics and religion


  1. Excellent sermon; even if you were preaching to the choir! I too have been thinking on this recently and in a wider circle - the whole world. For instance when I buy Nike brand shoes do I care that little children are paid pennies a day to work 14 to 16 hour days for my comfort. Do I buy the cheapest Maxwell house coffee at Wal*Mart or do I pay a bit more for FAIR TRADE coffee so the farmer gets a decent wage. Stuff like that.

  2. I understand what you are saying friend Barrie. But pennies a day may be much more than getting nothing. Right? And how do we know there is a FAIR Fair Trade product. Do we actually know that someone is actually helping these children? Or is it some big corporation PRETENDING and raking in more profit? I really cannot tell you. But would welcome any proof that anyone has.


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