“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” says Matthew 5:46, NIV 

Twenty years ago, we bought a 2003 Grand Caravan SUV in Green Bay, WI. The odometer reading indicates that it has driven 195,750 miles today. We have driven this vehicle cross-country multiple times, and it is our reliable companion during our family road trips. My whole family has a strong emotional attachment to this car. We gave him the nickname “Tatang,” a Tagalog term for an elderly man, and by calling him Tatang, it feels like he is a family member, not just simply a utility van. Our “Tatang” takes care of us, and we gladly reciprocate its goodness by taking care of all its needs.

Confucius said, “There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life -reciprocity.” The practice of reciprocity is like saying love begets love. It is ‘exchanging things with others for mutual benefit.’ To maintain vital and healthy connections to all kinds of relationships, our intentionality of practicing reciprocity plays a key role. A reciprocal relationship promotes mutual exchange of support, respect, and care. As you know, reciprocity looks different for each connection. Yet, the goal of maintaining a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship is similar regardless of what kind of relationship.

Can you name one or two examples of your own reciprocal relationship? As you identify and evaluate your various reciprocal relationships, including your reciprocal relationship with yourself, ask these questions: How does reciprocity help you better relate to others and yourself? In what situation could reciprocity be healthy and helpful, and when is it possibly not? More importantly, what is your motive for practicing reciprocity?

Jesus’ teaching can help respond to this question. He asked, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” The motivation should not be a reward but love itself. When you genuinely love your neighbor as you love yourself, your healthy practice of reciprocity naturally manifests itself, and your act of love is your reward. What steps would you take to help you grow in this aspect of love in creating healthy reciprocity?

In the world we live in today, there are many grounds why we can hate, despise, and discriminate against each other for selfish reasons. We are susceptible to doing good for the wrong reason and using the wrong reason as the basis for what seems to be an act of goodness. Jesus’ words about love and how love motivates us to connect with others offer a better way to practice reciprocity. May the love of God and our love for God, others, and ourselves be our guide in building mutually beneficial relationships with one another and the whole creation. Are you in love with God so much that you are ready to share this love with others?

Prayer Song:

Pass It On by Kurt Kaiser

It only takes a spark to get a fire going

And soon all those around can warm up in the glowing

That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it

You’ll spread His love to everyone.

You’ll want to pass it on.

What a wondrous time is spring when all the trees are budding

The birds begin to sing the flowers start their blooming

That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it

You’ll want to sing it’s fresh like spring

You’ll want to pass it on.

I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found

You can depend on Him it matters not where you’re bound

I’ll shout it from the mountain top I want the world to know

The Lord of love has come to me

I want to pass it on. Amen.