The Law of Reciprocity

Posted on 09/24/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning, and welcome to the gathering of the saints in the virtual world.

For those of you who have asked for a podcast of our weekly services, your wish has been granted. Go to livingsounds.org and click the "Podcast" button above the list of services.

Let's all stand to our feet as we open today's service with prayer.

Lord God, thank you for blessing us with yet another opportunity to come together from every corner of the globe to worship you together, to study your Word together, and to share sweet fellowship one with another.

Bless our gathering here today, and help us bless one another and bless you, as we seek to grow closer to you today.

Touch every heart and life in this place and listening by audio. You know each need, each dream and vision, each heartache and pain, and the deepest desires of each heart. Have your way here today, and move in our midst freely.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's worship our Father with song.


LORD YOU'VE BEEN SO GOOD

Lord, you've been so good to me
 you gave me sight when I was blind
You showed me light I could not see
 you brought me truth I could not find

Lord, you've been so good to me
 you paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
 Lord you've been so good to me!

And so I praise you in the morning
 and I praise you in the night
For you are my Salvation
 you are my guiding light
So I give you my everything
 I just can't give you less
When you sent your Son to love me
 you gave me your best!

Lord, you've been so good to me
 you set my feet on solid ground
You rescued my life from the grave
 when no other help could be found

Lord, you've been so good to me
 and I could never repay
All the love you gave so freely
 Lord, you've been so good to me!

And so I praise you in the morning
 and I praise you in the night
For you are my Salvation
 you are my guiding light
So I give you my everything
 I just can't give you less
When you sent your Son to love me
 you gave me your best!

Lord you've been so good to me
Lord you've been so good to me (better than I deserve)
Lord you've been so good to me
 you paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
 Lord you've been so good to me

Lord you've been so good to me
Lord you've been so good to me (you're good all the time)
Lord you've been so good to me
 and I could never repay
All the love you gave so freely
 Lord you've been so good to me

And so I praise you in the morning
 and I praise you in the night
For you are my Salvation
 you are my guiding light
So I give you my everything
 I just can't give you less
When you sent your Son to love me
 you gave me your best!

You gave me your best!
You gave me your best!

Lord, you've been so good to me.

UNBROKEN PRAISE

Unbroken praise, to Him who is, and was and will forever be
 upon the throne, we humbly bring our offering of
Unbroken praise, Almighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Morning Star,
 my soul's release, we bow before His Majesty in
Unbroken praise, around the throne, as You are worshiped by Your own,
 eternally, our hearts rejoice, our lips will sing

Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!

Unbroken praise, unto the Lamb, who overcame, who shall not change,
 always the same, we give our lives to demonstrate
Unbroken praise, to Him whose eyes, are flames of fire, come burn our souls
 with Your desire, and fill our mouths so we declare
Unbroken praise, both in the day, and in the night, 'till we are shining
 with Your Light, and all the nations come to hear

Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!

Unbroken praise, to Him whose voice, makes darkness flee, and saints rejoice,
 and so we stand, around the sea singing songs of
Unbroken praise, to Him who makes, our hearts rejoice, who thrills our spirits
 with His voice, who frees our tongues so we can sing
Unbroken praise, to Him who won the victory, who gave His life
 to set us free, and we're His bride eternally!

Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!

Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!
Unbroken praise!

YOU ARE MY ALL IN ALL

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all

Seeking you as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
 worthy is your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
 worthy is your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless your name
You are my all in all

When I fall down you pick me up
When I am dry you fill my cup
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
 worthy is your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
 worthy is your name

Thank you Jesus, and Amen!

You may be seated.

Today's theme Scripture is found in Luke 6:38, which says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

This Scripture is generally used in reference to money, and it certainly does apply to financial giving. But today we're going to include other types of giving.

So stay with us for the next few minutes, as we learn one of the secrets of opening the gates of blessing into our lives.

Let's back up a few verses and read this Scripture in context, beginning with verse 27:

27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Verse 31 pretty well sums up the spirit of our message today, "Do to others as you would have them do to you," and we'll talk about that in a just a moment.

Jesus prefaces these words by saying "I tell you who hear me..." If we do not hear the voice of the Spirit of God, these words aren't for us, and we won't be able to accept them.

If you're not where you should be with God today, don't wait another day, or another hour, or another moment. Things can be right between you and God in a moment of time.

In First John 1:9 we read that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Confess to God your sins, just between you and him, and ask for his forgiveness. Make a choice to turn from your sins (even if you don't know how you're going to do it) and to follow after Jesus.

It's really that simple, and you can be right with God right now. Go ahead and get things right with God right now, so you can hear the Words he wants to speak to you today.


So first Jesus says, "Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you." Of course our natural reaction to hatred is some form of aggression. We return insult for insult, jab for jab, evil for evil. But Jesus is telling us to LOVE our enemies, and to do GOOD to those who hate us!

What does this mean? Does this mean we are supposed to never use force to contain the evil deeds of our enemies? Are we supposed to smile and say, "I love you, so please stop strangling my child and beating my wife"?

I think not. Romans 13:4 tells us, "He is Godís minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Godís minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."

God would not ordain someone and call him or her his minister to execute his wrath if the execution of that wrath were evil. In fact, the Scripture, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay" is in the context of the scripture which says those who enforce the law in a lawful manner are the ministers of God to execute wrath, or vengeance, on the one who practices evil.

Putting this all together, we see that it is not our place to use spite, hatred, and unforgiveness to execute judgement on our enemies and those who hate us. When we pray for their souls instead, then God will visit judgement on them through the vessels he has ordained especially for each one of them.

This is an attitude of the heart, an attitude that "I have been forgiven of much. How can I hate another, someone who Jesus loves just as much as he loves me?"

So we are to love our enemies. We may not like them. But we are to love them.

Sometimes letting someone go free is not loving them, for love does that which is in the best interest of the one being loved.

Sometimes letting sin go unpunished is not love. We may be hurting the one bound by that sin, and hurting innocent victims of that sin by not using whatever means necessary to put a stop to those actions.

But the attitude of our heart must be love. If we join the armed forces to fight against and kill terrorists, we should do so to defend the innocent and see wickedness laid to rest.

Never forget this one thing. No matter what lies the media spews, and no matter what twisted, poinsonous thinking those in the public eye spread to the masses, keep this Biblical truth at the forefront of your mind:

Those who are fighting for our freedom and safety and the freedom and safety of others are ministers of God. They are ordained by God to fight the battles they are fighting. They are visiting the vengeance of God upon evildoers. Indeed, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay."

And we love the innocent men, women, and children enough to support them in their God-ordained mission of freedom and peace.

Jesus goes on to say, "Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, give him your tunic also."

"Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back."

Does this mean we are supposed to give away our food and bill money and end up on the street, and leaving our family to starve?

Of course not. This wouldn't be love, and this wouldn't be wisdom. This would be mixing up priorities, and after God, your family is your first priority.

The point here is love -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Hopefully no one here would want someone else to have their car reposessed because they loaned us some money.

But we also would hope that if we had a genuine need and they had a surpluss, they would help us in our time of need.

I believe this is what Jesus means here. If you have the means to help, then help. You would want others to help you if you had the same need and they had the same means to help, would you not?

And so you will do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Let's take another look at today's Scripture, which is, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken  together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use,  it will be measured to you."

Do you want blessings to be poured into your life? Do you want abundance to meet your needs and then be a blessing to others? Then give unto others in the same measure you want to receive.

He says, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." And how is God merciful? Think about it for a moment. Our sinful actions and attitudes, in the eyes of a perfect and absolutely holy God, are so horrible and wicked that he cannot even look at them. Even our own so-called "goodness", the deeds we wear as though they are the king's finest attire, is like filthy rags to God.

And yet, his mercies are new every morning. We all deserve eternal judgement, and yet he not only had mercy on us, but took on flesh and walked among us, and then died the most brutal and torturous death imaginable. And he did this because of his mercy and his love.

This is how we are to be merciful, just as God is merciful.

He goes on to say, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

But, you know, judgement is just so much fun! It's just such a holy feeling to become a self-appointed crusader unmasking evil on every side. This evangelist is evil, that church is deceived, so-and-so is a fake and a fraud. And we sit in judgement over groups and people and situations when we have no clear, concrete Word from the Lord. And the result? We bring judgement upon ourselves.

Do we condemn people because of the way they look or the things they do? Our own sin condemns us. Our own pride condemns us. We don't need someone else adding their own human condemnation to our cup of wrath set aside for us. And as we condemn others, our own condemnation is pronounced for all of heaven to hear.

Do we forgive others? Everyone? Or do we still hold unforgiveness toward someone? "Well, I SHOULDN'T forgive so-and-so. They are evil, and they ruined my (or someone else's) life!" And yet, we must remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:15, "If you do not forgive others for their sins, neither will your Father forgive you for your sins."

I need forgiveness just as much as the next guy. You need forgiveness just as much as the ones who have done you wrong. None of us can afford to hold unforgiveness toward another, because if God does not forgive us, we are without hope.

Then Jesus finishes by saying, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Do we give our mercy, forgiveness, and unconditional kindness begrudingly? Then we cannot expect a flood of mercy, forgiveness, and kindness to flow to us from others. If it does, it is just a demonstration of the fact God loves us anyway. If it does not, it is just that we are receiving with the same measure we have given to others.

The law of reciprocity is a law that works, just like the law of gravity. What goes up, must come down. What you sow, that you will reap.

But there are four verse we haven't talked about yet. They outline a very important element, and must be followed for the law of reciprocity to work to its fullest. And this element is found in verses 32 through 35:

32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love  those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even  sinners do that.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get  anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,  because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

So many times the law of sowing and reaping is presented as a magical ritual for getting what you want. But Jesus paints a very different picture here.

Our flesh would embrace the teaching, "Give to others so you can get stuff." But when we're told to "Give to others without expecting to get anything in return," our flesh cringes and sticks its fingers in our ears saying, "It's not really important to listen to this radical nonsense. Why don't we go watch TV, or take a nap, or go somewhere. Maybe we can browse the Internet and find something worthwhile to read."

But for the power of God to flow through our lives to others, then from others back through us, our attitudes must be right.

When we give kindness, it should be because God wants to show kindness to them through us, and we are being a vessel of God's will.

When we give to a ministry or bring our tithe, ten percent of our income, to the church, it should not be because we're hoping to get something in return, but because we are being obedient to God.

When we give to a ministry, it should not be because we're hoping to get a check in the mail for twice what we gave because some type of mystical forces are at work. Rather, it should be because God loves the people being touched by that ministry, and we are extending God's love to them by giving what we can and what God lays upon our heart to give.

Whatever we give to others, let it be in a heart of true giving, not expecting anything in return.

When we take on this Christ-like attitude and instead of holding on to what we have, we give it freely to help and bless others, expecting absolutely nothing in return; when we grasp hold of this heavenly attitude and make it a way of life, we will begin to see the true blessings of God pour into our lives.

Not necessarily flashy flesh-pleasing blessings, for God will not give us what will destroy us; rather, TRUE blessings that bring us peace, joy, happiness, and lasting fulfilment.

Let's take one last look at our verse for today, then we'll close with prayer and go next door for a time of fellowship.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken  together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use,  it will be measured to you."

And the last question I will ask all of us is this: "What is your measure?"

If you have a dime to your name and you give a nickel, isn't that a greater measure than someone who has millions of dollars and gives fifty bucks?

Remember the time Jesus and his disciples were standing outside the place where the tithes and offerings were brought to the temple. The religious people were bringing great sums of money and putting them in with pride and pomp.

Then an old widow put in a penny. And Jesus said, "Do you see this woman? She put in more than everyone else. For they gave out of their wealth, but she gave all she had."

Most of us may not be wealthy, so we can't give thousands of dollars to others. But we can give a little, whatever the Lord leads. And if we give the little we have to God, he sees it as more than all the riches of the wealthy.

What is your measure?

Perhaps you are not wealthy in financial wealth. And perhaps you are not wealthy in mercy, or forgiveness, or kindness. Perhaps those things don't come so easily for you. But remember that as we give what we have without expecting to gain anything in return, God will cause that thing in us to grow.

Do you want the kindness of God to grow in you? Then swallow the things keeping you from being kind, and show the kindness you want shown to you.

Do you want the strength to forgive to grow in you? Then choose to forgive everyone for everything. This doesn't necessarily mean going on as if nothing ever happened. If a woman has a husband who has been molesting their child, she does need to forgive him; but that doesn't mean she should let him back into the home.

When we give what we have, using Godly wisdom, praying for and cultivating the attitude that we are showing God's love to those around us and we expect absolutely nothing in return, then we will begin to see the law of reciprocity in action.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken  together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

I would like to offer an opportunity to put some of these Words into action. If you've been blessed by this ministry, or if you believe in our vision and want to see our work continue, then I encourage you to help with the growing financial needs of this ministry. Point your Internet browser to www.livingsounds.org and click the "Support this ministry" button.

But whether or not you ever give a dime to THIS ministry, put the law of reciprocity into action in your life by listening for the voice of the Spirit, and then by giving, expecting nothing in return.

At this time I will ask the ministry team to come stand at the front.

If you need prayer to help forgive someone, come pray with us now.

If you need prayer to help give kindness, mercy, and love to others, come pray with us now.

Or if you need prayer for any other issue, come to the front now and instant message one of the ministry team.

This altar is open. If you need prayer for any of these things, if you want to come to Jesus today, or if you need prayer or ministry for any other thing or just wish to come kneel and pray alone, come to the front now.

The rest of you please stick around for a few minutes so you can join us in the room to your left for a time of fellowship.

Now may God give you a generous spirit mixed with Godly wisdom. May you give freely to all, expecting nothing in return. And may God pour into your lap such abundant blessings that you cannot contain them, but must let them flow to those around you. Amen!