RECIPROCATE WITH PRAYER
The idea of returning a favor is as old as the hills. It is like the hub of a wheel on an axle turning in a circle. All of our relationships in conducts depend on treating and doing to others what we want them to do for us (Matthew 7:12). It is also what we sow we shall reap (Galatians 6:7). Yet, modern versions, on forgiveness, no longer require remittance for our mistakes. When and where did Jesus allow us to exempt ourselves from reciprocating? He healed ten lepers and only one returned to give thanks (Luke 17:17-18).
The modern idea on forgiveness is, because of Christ’s sacrifice, we no longer need to pay for the wrong we have done. I saw this being illustrated by two siblings demolishing the guitar of their older brother and then were embraced rather than punished by the brother and family. That example was preceded by using the Parables of the “Unmerciful Servant” (Matthew 18:21-35), “the Lost Son” (Luke 15:11-32), and “Zacchaeus” (Luke 19:1-10) to substantiate the concept of forgiveness to children. The truth about the three men is that the servant was severely punished for being mean and unforgiving, the son did not receive a single penny more from his father, and Zacchaeus promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back fourfold. When do we start teaching children that they must reciprocate and that is, “What they hand out they shall receive back.” I read this joke about a hoodlum testing a minister, who had preached on turning the other cheek, by slapping his face. The clergyman hit him back hard and the hood complained, “What did you preach?” The minister replied, “With the measure you measured, I measured you back.” A lawman witnessed the encounter and rushed to the rescue, but the cleric replied, “We are alright; I had to explain the Bible to this heathen.”
It is true that children cannot pay for all the wrong they do. I belonged to a little group as a boy and we did damage crops by hunting rabbits, we used carbide to blow up empty bee-houses, and stopped when we almost killed one of us by forcing a bullet into a toy gun. We escaped punishment and we were never forgiven because we never dared to ask for it. If we had, our parents had to do a lot more than ground us. We are not in heaven, but on earth and we do get caught and end up paying for the wrong we do. Even in heaven, that is before we shall be admitted, we shall be held accountable on Judgment Day. For that reason, we have to settle our accounts with Judge Jesus here on earth. Jesus has very certain demands that help us to clear our debts. All these things Jesus wants us to do deal with reciprocation. Hiding the truth will not set us free. Years later, I had to deal with my guilt for my foolish pranks and it was humiliating. I lived in two dormitories that housed Bible Students and Seminarians. These men and women had no problem with tormenting others, they did not like with foolish pranks. They targeted one person so badly that the president was called to his aid in a late hour at night. Another reputable lad fed his companions dog food.
In chapel, these people were saints. They had remarkable prayers and testimonies telling us what the Holy Spirit was telling them. Here I was, among them, a troubled soul gasping for the mystery of the Spirit. One day, I too got up in chapel and tried my luck with inventing what the Spirit had said to me. That moment my face felt as if it was on fire and my heart began to race and a voice as clear as the “C Note” on the keyboard said, “You liar, I said nothing to you!” I had to wrestle with myself for some time before a wiser person than I led me to find peace. Never again, did I dare say the Spirit or the Lord is telling me. Instead, He has given us a Bible where He left His instruction saying read it and it talks about me and tells you what is expected of you (John 5:39).
I have to do much more praying about reciprocation because I have not been tested severely enough to appreciate what it can do. I turned fifteen when the World War II ended and I no longer had to guard my cheek against racism, fanaticism, and irrationalism. The free world allowed me to blow my horn and it does not feel threatened by my ideas. Suppose the time of Jesus reappears under a system that sets us back in time, will I then reciprocate like Jesus did? Will I forgive those that mock, ridicule, torture and hurt me? Will I love my enemies and pray for them? The biggest thing I have ever have done was forgive the boy that caused the accident that disabled me. He had no ill will and he came to visit me several times while I was in the hospital. But to reciprocate, like Jesus did, is beyond my limited mental capacity. Some times, I do a little extra for people that mean something to me. I, too, have a tendency to favor some over others. I do not feel at home with everyone and I do respect and appreciate when others feel the same about me. I easily sense when I am wanted or not wanted. In fact, I have been accused of being oversensitive regarding joining groups. I am because by imposing myself on others I am violating the principle of reciprocation.
The most difficult reciprocation is when I know I am not going to get anything back in a world that actually lives by it. Jesus told us not to expect anything. But where does Jesus say that one group has the right to force me to reciprocate until I am in the poor house? Everything went up except my income. I had a call from a police union sponsoring one of their pet programs to impress us. He asked for support and I responded, “Our taxes went up to pay your salary and that lowered my income.” We did not finish our talk. How then can I reciprocate? It is becoming even more difficult, when I am compelled to reciprocate with people that use my generosity to their own advantage, by forcing their unwholesome living on me and on my family. They are driving me into a position, where I no longer can reciprocate. The tragic thing, in our time, is that socialistic ideologies are killing the spirit of reciprocity and turning humanity into a pile of rubble. We have allowed a handful of people to turn us into servitude. We are becoming like children holding out our hands for our daily rationing. After Poland fell and the Russians took over, my father stood in breadlines daily for hours for a loaf of bread to feed the five of us. Really, what do I know about reciprocation? How could I? Since I lived in North America, I have never gone hungry, even when the economy was bad.
There is a negative result to reciprocation. By law, with the measure we measure we shall be measured (Mark 4:24). Here it is again. It is what we sow, we shall harvest. If I stop reciprocating, I lose what I have. If I keep hording, I feed rust and decay. Nothing lasts in this world. The richest man in Israel’s Bible time was Solomon and He regarded everything as vanity, because immediately after his death, his kingdom fell apart for want of riches (Ecclesiastes 1:1). He had gained, and he spent it all at the same time. He had nothing left to pass on to his son, but an economically burdened nation that split into halves. These three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon taxed the nation out of existence. The people had nothing left to reciprocate with. History bears endless witness to nations and peoples that were deprived of their ability to reciprocate. The American Indian believed that a man had to hunt to be a man. When that was taken from him, he no longer was a man. He hunted to feed his family and those he loved and liked. It was in essence the foundation of reciprocity. He did not live unto himself, but as his brother’s keeper. Reciprocation is not merely a little giving that remains unanswered, but the basis for human dignity and human survival. It is a grave matter of prayer for all of us.