The Law of Reciprocity (Pt. iii) – Forrest Gump Style

April 24, 2009

For those of you living under a rock, “Forrest Gump” is a movie starring Tom Hanks as a simple guy who has a low IQ but leads a remarkable life.  All his life he’s been told that when he’s confused or scared or hurt, he should run.  Running got him into college football.  It got him a Purple Heart in Vietnam.  And in a scene towards the latter part of the movie, it gets him one of his many harvests.

Forrest Gump’s running scene is the law of reciprocity in action, and he doesn’t even know it.

He has just had someone extremely close to him hurt him bad.  She’s left him, and he’s standing on his front porch in Alabama, staring down his driveway.  He steps off his porch and says “so I decided to go for a run.”  He runs down to the end of his driveway.  Then down the street.  Then across town.  Then across the county, then the state, then to the Atlantic ocean, and then to the Pacific.  He starts running back and forth across the country, and in the process is unintentionally scattering the seed that is unique and individual to him.

He’s running for days and months all by himself, obscure and alone.  Although I think he would tell you that it was great and enjoyable, it represents the time of toiling and groundbreaking that must take place to sow a harvest of magnificent and exponential beauty.

So he’s running back and forth.  Eventually people begin to notice his seeds that are now springing from the ground.  Some begin to follow him.  People keep trying to ask him why he’s running, but he says very little.  So they decide that he’s running for charity, or that he’s trying to attract attention for world peace.  They begin to develop all kinds of reasons – personal, political, spiritual – but he doesn’t say much and just keeps running.

Along the way, he becomes the inspiration that a few entrepreneurs needed to hit it big.  And more and more people join him.  Finally after more than three years, he stops running, tells everyone he’s pretty tired, and goes home, leaving several dozen people wondering what they were supposed to do from there.

So Forrest Gump began this trek out of the passion and uniqueness that had simply become a major part of him.  He already had his seed.  As he ran back and forth, in effect tilling the ground, he scattered that seed, and all kinds of things began to spring up.  It was completely organic and simply overflowed from a place within himself that struck a chord with many other people.  He had the right seed in the right soil at the right time.

And if he wanted to, at that point he could have done any number of things.  He could have written a book or started a foundation or branded himself and become a spokesman for a cause or agenda, like some of the people thought.  The fields were bursting with the sweet aroma of harvest.

And this brings us to the last part of this law – the receiving.  Oddly enough, this is where many people miss it.  When the harvest is ripe – and there is a perfect time – it needs to be gathered.  But even if we’ve sown the right seed and tilled the ground and kept the fields parasite and weed free, our attitude at this point can render all this activity moot.

There are two ways we can sow, give, receive and harvest.
The first is from a position of fear and lack.
The second is from a position of faith and abundance.

The first position, like I touched on with Scrooge McDuck, sows with an attitude of simply taking and hoarding.  This attitude says that there is only a very limited amount, and whatever I get, I’m going to hold tight to it because I may never get any more.  I’m going to store and store.  There may be some giving in the process, but it’s a self-serving kind of giving – giving simply as a means to an end to get back.

When a person sows and reaps with the fear and lack mentality, they actually end up missing many, many opportunities for a greater and richer harvest because they are so focused on their own end results and self-preservation.  The person operating in fear and lack has a steady flow of people walking up to their door, but they are sent away, because that person fears they will take their harvest when it’s full.  They fear that if they share their crop, there won’t be enough to go around.

In contrast, the person operating in faith and abundance gives away as much as is reasonable, because they know that as long as they have a good harvest, some of those people will tell their friends, and they will tell their friends, and it will become something that is exponential and effortless.  It will have no choice but to multiply.

There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates this perfectly.  Jesus tells a story about three servants who are entrusted with different amounts of money (called talents) by their master.  One is given five talents, one is given two, and the third is given one, “each according to his own ability.” The master leaves.  The first servant takes his five talents and makes five more.  The second takes his two and makes two more.  The third servant takes his and buries it in the ground.

When the master returns, he asks for an account of what the servants have done with what he’s entrusted them with.  He’s pleased with the first and second servant, but angry with the third.  He takes the talent from the third and gives it to the servant who ended up with ten.  Then he banishes the servant from his service, calling him wicked and lazy.  He says, “To everyone who has, more will be given…but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

I read a really good commentary on what Jesus means by this story, and how it is part of the law of reciprocity.

**If you use what is given to you, you will gain more.  If you fail to use what is given to you, you will lose even what you think you have.  Whether in physical, intellectual, financial, or relational dealings, whatever is given to you, however small it is, use it.  Use it diligently and on an ever increasing scale.  Set goals to increase whatever you do. “**

The difference between operating out of fear and lack as opposed to faith and abundance is a little like having the choice between the luxury car or the beater.

When we’re sowing out of a giver’s mentality, we are entitled to the luxury car.  Yet because we often are seeing through the eyes of lack and poverty, when it comes time to harvest, we choose the beater, even if we are giving.

Conversely, when we operate from a standpoint of a getter, we can only have that beater, but we go ahead and claim the luxury car.  Then we get angry when we get neither.

So the Law of Reciprocity looks like this:

  1. Operate out of an attitude of faith and abundance, not fear and lack.
  2. Have seed of great substance; seed that is unique only to you; that is packed with core and fundamental value and content.  Every chance you get to give this seed away, do it.
  3. Know the seasons, the soil, and the prime location
  4. Toil and work the land, overcoming and persevering at all costs
  5. Be patient and faithful to the vision and the harvest.
  6. At the proper time, reap and receive.  And then give it away again.


To see more writing like this, check out my book, The Human Code

** Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 2008

The Law of Reciprocity

April 24, 2009

There is a very real law called the Law of Reciprocity.

This is the principle of giving and receiving. Like gravity, it is there, whether we believe in it or not.

Have you ever wondered why some people seem like magnets for good things? For some people, doors just always seem to open. It seems so incredibly easy. Then there are other people who seem like they have to fight just to stay above water. They seem cursed.

What’s going on?

The secret is in the seeds.


A farmer plans to plant a field of wheat. He wants to reap an incredible harvest, so that he can sell it, share it, or feed himself with it. What does he need in order to see this harvest? Yep. Seeds. Lots and lots of good seeds.

What else? Time. Timing. Patience. Faith. Location. The right soil conditions. Rain and sun in proper proportions. Knowledge. Understanding. Hard work. A supreme effort. Love.

When all these elements are combined in the right mix, he is guaranteed to reap a field of the finest grain. Why? Because that is the way that the earth is set up to work.

This example of the farmer is the most obvious example, but it is a powerful one. It is a metaphor for the way we’re to live and move through our lives. It represents the way we do business, the way we raise our kids, the way we treat people, and everything in between. It is the key to living the life of abundance and fullness that we were meant to live.

And make no mistake, we were meant to live a full and abundant life.

So how does the law of reciprocity work? According to this analogy, what does it start with? That’s right. Knowledge and understanding.

One of the scriptures in the Bible says, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

In the book of Proverbs, the writer says, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold.”

It is important to start out in whatever you intend to accomplish with a foundation of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The farmer has to know what kind of harvest he wants, so that he knows what kind of seed to sow. If he wants wheat, he can’t plant corn or beans. Without the right seed, the harvest is doomed.

He has to understand the weather patterns and know when the conditions are optimal to plant those seeds. He’s not going to go out in the dead of winter and scatter the seeds on ground that is frozen over and expect them to grow. For the farmer, timing is crucial.

He needs to be in the right location. If he’s living in Kansas or Spain, there’s a great chance he’ll yield a profitable and full harvest. If he’s living in Iraq or Greenland, his chances for a successful harvest are slim to none. When all of these elements are aligned, it’s time to begin planting or sowing.

In many parts of the world to this day, this remains a backbreaking and grueling process. If the farmer doesn’t have the heavy machinery, he has to use animals, laborers, or his own strength. There’s sweat and blisters and aching muscles. It is a supreme effort to break up the ground and get it turned over so that it is at just the right depth and richness.

Then there is the actual sowing process. The seed must be scattered at the right distance and frequency and ratio. It is vital for it to land on that perfectly cultivated ground and not in ground that is rocky or dry or weed-infested.

After this comes the difficult time of waiting and weeding. The land must remain free of weeds and other parasites as the tender shoots rise up out of the ground, or the harvest will be lost before it really even begins to develop. It is a constant process.

All the while, the farmer is seeing action. He sees the young plants springing out and growing. He catches the scent on the breeze.

But if that farmer is hungry or needs to sell his harvest because he’s running out of money, that can be the longest and hardest time of all. It’s right there in front of him, but picking it prematurely will kill the harvest and destroy all the months of hard work. There is nothing the farmer can do but wait and have faith that at the proper time, he will reap the good harvest if he doesn’t give up and become discouraged.

A good harvest – the best harvest – is always about the proper time.

That is the key. Too early, there’s no fruit. Too late, the fruit dies and rots and falls to the ground. There’s nothing that can be done to speed it up. It will happen at the right time. The farmer has given and given of himself. He plants and toils and cares, having faith that his efforts will pay off. At the right time, he receives back all that he has given and then some.

So it is with the Law of Reciprocity.

It is constant and reliable. But it is hard work and discipline if you want the really good harvest.


To see more writing like this, check out my book, The Human Code