The Reciprocation Expectation


I like Dave Ramsey’s (host of The Dave Ramsey radio show and author of Financial Peace University) response when asked how he’s doing. He likes to say, “Better than I deserve.” What he means by this is that compared to a holy and perfect God, we all deserve wrath and damnation. So anything other than that– i.e. another day of sunshine and breathing–is better than we deserve. I’ve tried to adopt this same response when I’m asked how I’m doing. I’m also trying to adopt this as a mindset. I’m a work in progress.


So I’m trying to work my way through a daily devotional (for at least the third time) called “This Morning With God” and I’m currently in the book of Luke. In chapter 6 is the famous “Turn the other cheek” speech from Jesus in verses 29-30. You know, the one where he says if someone strikes you on one cheek, let him strike the other, and if someone takes your coat, give him your shirt as well. And then in verse 30 is the famous “Golden Rule” command, to do to others as you would have them do to you. But then, He continues in verses 32-36, with a part of the Golden Rule that isn’t quoted quite as often. Jesus basically says if you love others and do good to others and lend your money/possessions to others who do the same for you, big deal! Everyone does that, even evil people. He then raises the bar and commands us to do that for others REGARDLESS of whether they are willing or able to reciprocate! (v.35) In other words, love others and do good to others and lend your money/possessions to others without any expectation of reciprocation! What?? Are you serious, Jesus? And then, as if anticipating that exact response from us (after all, he is omniscient), he backs it up by saying that that is how God treats us, because “He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Ouch. Of course, there is no comeback to that. I mean, there is no way I could ever reciprocate the grace and mercy and blessings God has given to me. There is no way I could ever repay the price He paid for my salvation. And He knew that upfront, before He did all that for me, before I was even born. And yet, He has blessed me with grace and mercy and family and possessions and health…

One other final thought hit me ‘tween the eyes: These verses are usually associated with treatment of “enemies”, but at the beginning of the section, He also includes those who hate us, curse us, and mistreat us. It seems like an upside-down funnel, that gets wider and broader to include more and more people. In other words, people close to us are included in this exhortation to love and be kind without expectations such as spouse, siblings, boss, coworkers, etc.  Ouch. Again.

As I said, I’m a work in progress. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me.

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