Recently, a friend posted on Facebook a dilemma he was facing that was challenging his relationship with the young lady he had chosen to develop a serious relationship with. In part, it seems that he felt emotionally, financially, and personally he was not getting in return the same measure that he was giving. How sad to think that anyone would opt to discontinue giving because they aren’t getting the same in return.

That’s one of the tragedies of modern day romances, i.e., the expectation of mutual and immediate reciprocity. Somehow, we have gotten the impression that our significant others are bound to give back to us in the same proportion and at the same way that we give. Many times we expect even more. However, that way of thinking is antithetical, detrimental, and has no biblical foundation.

There are many scriptures that seemingly point to mutual and immediate reciprocity as a reward for doing good or for giving to others, especially our significant others. Some would seek to justify that notion by pointing to Matthew 7:12, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the Prophets” (NIV). The problem with using the “Golden Rule” as a reference (as it is for so many scriptures that seemingly give credence to the idea of mutual reciprocity) is that it never indicates a reciprocity because of your doing or giving. It says “’do’ to others what you would have them ‘do’ unto you.” The implication here is that when you ‘do’, be not in expectation of getting something in return. Simply ‘do’ because you have it in you to ‘do’ and because it’s the right thing to ‘do.’  ‘Do’ in contemplation of receiving equal back, and whatever you get back is your reward. All long term, down the road, long-lasting benefits are forfeited for the sake of immediate and proportionate reciprocity.

Some would point to Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (KJV). Again, the challenge is in the interpretation. This scripture does in fact say you will have proportional reciprocation, but it does not promise immediate reciprocity. And nowhere does it say it will be in the form or the way you want it.

My direct response to my friend was pretty straight forward; “What I have learned in my 28 years of marriage is that I give because I have it to give. Giving completes me! My reward is in my giving. What doesn’t come back is not needed. Sometimes what comes back is what I need, not what I want, so it’s easily missed or misunderstood. So don’t let what someone isn’t capable of giving to you stop you from giving to them what you have to give.”

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, M.Div.


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