The Law of Reciprocity
Author: Andy Robbins
A young missionary couple sat in my living room last year, sharing with my family and me the details of the gospel work they are doing in a village in Mexico. They felt commissioned by God in their teenage years to go to the mission field. Now only in their early twenties, they had given up the prospects of financial security and the comforts of living in a place like the United States for a 500-square-foot room with no bed and no running water – a room that they occasionally shared with scorpions and bats.
Yet, to them it is all worth it.
It is worth it to see young women like Luisa, formerly an adherent to paganism, turn from her former life to serve Christ amidst the prospect of being ostracized by her family and community. It is worth it to have families invite the young couple into their homes to teach them about the Bible even though their pagan priests warned them that reading the Bible will make them go insane.
What this couple has given up in the form of monetary comforts is more than made up for in the satisfaction of knowing they are living a life of eternal significance resulting in the saving of souls. And what they receive as their eternal reward will dwarf even the most lavish life they could have lived here on earth.
This missionary couple said something profound during their stay in our home. They said that a soldier always seeks to carry out the last command from his superior officer until a new command is given, and the last command that Jesus left His followers was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Indeed, it was the late Christian singer/songwriter, Keith Green, who said that since all are called to go and preach the gospel, if you do not “go,” then you had better at least be supporting those who do. And Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you have no desire to see others saved, you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.”
In reading my last few posts, perhaps you are beginning to see your own role in financing the advancement of the gospel and in sharing your goods with those in need in ever increasing measure. That is just one of the many principles of financial growth done God’s way, but perhaps the most important one. It represents the Law of Reciprocity, or the Law of Sowing and Reaping. Life always returns to you in proportion to what you give. And in God’s economy, He says that the amount we give can never be greater or equal to what we get back. God always gives back MORE. (Re: Luke 6:38, Proverbs 3:9-10, Psalm 112……) But the catch is that you must have a heart that is filled with compassion enough to act, and that compassion should motivate giving in many forms. If you are giving only to get, with no real heart for the poor or lost, you are giving with wrong motives, and your results will be limited. But if one gives cheerfully with Kingdom purposes in mind, one can expect an abundant harvest from that seed.
If a person doesn’t have a heart for the poor and unsaved enough to turn loose of some of his/her money in order to bring the gospel to the lost and food to the hungry, one can be sure that one’s financial state will always be a precarious one, because even during times of abundance one’s estate will be vulnerable. Proverbs is plain: “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” (28:27) And Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required, and to whom much more is given, much more will be required (Luke 12:48). What’s that you say? You haven’t been given much? I beg to differ.
Let’s put this in perspective.
If you’re annual income is $40,000 per year, you are among the top 200,000 richest people in the world, which is the top 3.17% globally, according to Global Rich List.com! For even more perspective, consider this:
$8 could buy you 15 organic apples here in the states OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.
$30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.
$73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.
$2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village. (source: http://www.globalrichlist.com/ )
So what are you doing with YOUR money? What do you have planned for your next paycheck, your next tax check, your next raise? Are you willing to give up even one nicety for your life or sacrifice even one amenity for your luxurious church in order to feed some hungry mouths, to cloth some naked bodies, or to fund the work of a struggling gospel work abroad?
I’m still growing in the grace of giving myself, so I do not consider myself to have attained the goal of excelling in giving the way I want to. Donna and I would like to eventually get the point that we are giving away a majority of our income to the work of the gospel, and living on what is left over. But by God’s grace we have been able to make some pretty significant sacrifices already even while enjoying some abundance for our own use. I drive a ten-year old car with 300,000 miles on it, for example, and like the Israelites in the wilderness wearing shoes that didn’t wear out, God has kept my car going with very little repair expense. I also still do a lot of my shopping for clothes at discount stores. I could have afforded to buy a new car a long time ago, and I could wear Gucci shoes if I really wanted them. But to me it is more blessed to give than to hoard. And that’s why I believe I have enjoyed a level of success that I never thought I had the ability to attain on my own. God has blessed my family as we have been willing to use His money that He has let us use to further His kingdom, and He has let us have more of it the more we give away so that we can enjoy some blessings, too. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some of your heart’s desires. God wants that for you, and He will give them to you if you make His priorities YOUR priorities and begin to be a stream of His blessings flowing to other people. If money is not flowing from you to other people as it flows to you from God, you will become like a stagnant pond.
Proverbs 11:24 says that there is a man who gives yet gains even more, and another who withholds but comes to poverty. When you give, you are not only storing up for yourself treasures in heaven, but you are placing yourself in the position to be greatly blessed of God, because God is concerned about the care of the poor and the advancement of the gospel, and He wants you and me to be His hands and feet in carrying out His priorities. And when we do that, He will bless you even more because He knows He can trust you. He will indeed bless you in order in order to be a conduit of His blessing and also to allow you to enjoy some abundance too!
In closing today’s blog, I refer you to the book of 2 Corinthians, verses 6-11:
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously. ….God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace ABOUND toward you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will ABOUND in EVERY GOOD WORK. …. Now He Who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and INCREASE your store of seed and ENLARGE the harvest of your righteousness. YOU WILL BE MADE RICH IN EVERY WAY so that you can be GENEROUS ON EVERY OCCASION.”
If that doesn’t light your fire, your wood is wet!
P.S. Even with these past few blogs I have posted, I don’t have space here to develop this teaching fully. I feel this teaching needs to be established with a protracted discussion on its theological foundation, and I have done just that on an audio teaching I have done called, The Principles of Abundance, which also includes my testimony of how God raised Donna and I up from absolute poverty to where we are today. I would be pleased to give it to whomever requests it.