4. The Promise of Reciprocity

God created us out of love:

I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.177 _Bahá’u’lláh

God continuously sustains His love for us by sending His great Messengers and Teachers, who endure every adversity and suffering for our sake. How can we appreciate this love? By welcoming and loving those Messengers. They speak not from themselves, but from God. Loving them is the same as loving God; ignoring them is the same as ignoring God.

In psychology, the most reasonable and acceptable means of managing behavior, or applying discipline, is called logical and natural consequences. What is the best way of treating a child who keeps abusing a toy? To take it away from him. What is the best remedy for a person who drinks and drives? To take the car away from him. What is the best remedy for a healthy and strong person who refuses to work? To let him taste poverty and hunger. This may seem cruel, but is supporting him at the expense of others not more cruel? What is the best response to a teen-ager who keeps abusing the phone? To take that privilege away from him. Using logical and natural consequences is justice in its simplest, purest, and highest form. No doubt we can find exceptions to this rule, as we can find to every rule. Yet the general principle, wherever practical, holds true.

Let us apply this principle to our relationship with God. Let us see what our Creator has done for us, what we should do in return, and what will happen if we don’t. Suppose out of your love for a friend, you accept forty years of imprisonment and exile and every possible humiliation and suffering (this is what Bahá’u’lláh went through). Now suppose you send your son to visit that friend to tell him your story. Your son travels a long distance, finds the house, and knocks on the door. But instead of welcoming your son and offering him the warmest and kindest words of gratitude, your friend ignores him, pretends not to know him, and shuts the door on him. How would you feel? And how would you respond? Would you call him and thank him? Would you send him a gift and a thank-you card? Or would you get angry and say to yourself, “He did not deserve my love. From now on I will leave him alone”? According to the principle of logical and natural consequences, the most reasonable response is to leave him alone. This is how our Creator promises to treat us. Compare God to the sun. What is the best punishment for a person who ignores or resents your kindness and keeps insisting, “Don’t open the windows; I don’t like the sun; let me live in darkness”? To let him live in darkness; his punishment is a natural consequence of his choice. That is what happens to those who reject or ignore God’s Messengers. They lose all the benefits that come from believing. This is sheer justice. For God is both kind and fair, both loving and just.

The following examples demonstrate the promise of reciprocity:

With the measure you use, it will be measured to you. _Christ (Matt. 7:2)

…you shall be treated as you have treated others… _Obadiah 15

God will verily do unto them that which they themselves are doing…178 _Bahá’u’lláh

Do you expect to receive a reward other than that which ye have earned by your deeds? _Qur’án 27:90

Whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall reap also. _Galatians 6:7

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. _II Corinthians 9:6

To motivate us, our Creator promises to treat us according to the principle of natural and logical consequences. For instance, He asks:

• Do you want Me to love you? Then love Me:

O Son Of Being!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.179 _Bahá’u’lláh

We love because He first loved us. _I John 4:19

In any way that men love Me in that same way they find My love… _Bhagavad Gita 4:1

• Do you want Me to remember you? Then remember Me:

O Son Of Being!
Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee…180 _Bahá’u’lláh

Remember Me, then, and I will remember you. _Qur’án 2:152

He, verily, will…remember everyone that remembereth Him.181 _Bahá’u’lláh • Do you want to attain victory? Then make My Cause victorious:

Arise for the triumph of My cause, that while yet on earth thou mayest obtain the victory.182 _Bahá’u’lláh

He, verily, will aid everyone that aideth Him…183 _Bahá’u’lláh
• Do you want Me to think highly of you? Then think highly of Me:

Thy sight is My sight, do thou see therewith, that in thine inmost soul thou mayest testify unto My exalted sanctity, and I within Myself may bear witness unto an exalted station for thee.184 _Bahá’u’lláh

Those who honor Me I will honor. _I Samuel 2:30

• Do you want to discover the mysteries of My greatness? Then magnify and glorify My cause:

Magnify My cause that I may reveal unto thee the mysteries of My greatness and shine upon thee with the light of eternity.185 _Bahá’u’lláh

• Do you wish to be lifted up? Then humble yourself before God:
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. _James 4:10

• Do you wish to live in God? Then “die” in Him by destroying your selfish desires:

If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself…that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.186 _Bahá’u’lláh

• Do you want Me to be pleased with you? Then please others:

O My Friends!
Walk ye in the ways of the good pleasure of the Friend, and know that His pleasure is in the pleasure of His creatures.187 _Bahá’u’lláh

Do you wish to find God? Then search for Him:

Thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. _Deuteronomy 4:29

Those who seek Me find Me. _Proverbs 8:17

Do you want to be rich in the next Kingdom? Then give away of your wealth in this kingdom:

O Son Of Man!
Bestow My wealth upon My poor, that in heaven thou mayest draw from stores of unfading splendor and treasures of imperishable glory.188 _Bahá’u’lláh

Give, and it will be given to you…For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. _Christ (Luke 6:38)

Do you wish to be treated with mercy? Then treat others with mercy: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. _Christ (Matt. 5:7) Pass no judgment, and you will not be judged. _Christ (Matt. 7:1)

Do you wish God to keep His covenant, then keep your covenant:

Be true to your covenant with Me; I will be true to my covenant with you… _Qur’án 2:38

Do you wish to be acknowledged? Then acknowledge God’s Messengers and Teachers:

Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. _Christ (Luke 12:8)

Do you wish the Lord to be with you? Then be with the Lord:
The Lord is with you when you are with Him. _II Corinthians 15:2 Return unto me, and I will return unto you… _Malachi 3:7

Do you wish to receive an answer, then call Him:
He shall call Me, and I will answer him… _Psalms 91:15

Do you wish “wisdom” to love you? Then love wisdom: I love those who love me… _Proverbs 8:17

Do you want to be forgotten on the day of judgment? Then forget about that day:

Taste then the consequences of forgetting this day [of judgment]. We now forget you. _Qur’án 32:14

Do you wish to forget your soul? Then forget God:

And be not like those who forget God; and He made them forget their own souls! Qur’án 59:19

• Do you wish to be rejected? Then reject the knowledge of God.
Because thou hath rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee… _Hosea 4:6

• If you wish to be treated with contempt, then treat God with contempt: Those who despise Me shall be treated with contempt. _I Samuel 2:30

• Do you wish to be denied? Then deny God’s Messengers and Teachers:

He that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. _Christ (Luke 12:9)

• Do you wish God’s supreme Messenger be ashamed of you? Then be ashamed of Him:

Whoever is ashamed of Me and Mine, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him, when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels. _Christ (Luke 9:26)

• Do you wish God to forsake you? Then forsake Him:
If you forsake Him, He will forsake you. _II Corinthians 15:2

• Do you wish God to forget you? Then forget His supreme Savior and Messenger of the age:

God will verily…forget them even as they have ignored His Presence in His day. Such is His decree unto those that have denied Him, and such will it be unto them that have rejected His signs.189 _Bahá’u’lláh

• Do you wish to find the door to the heavenly banquet open? Then open your heart:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. _Christ (Rev. 3:20-21)

All these quotations on the principle and promise of reciprocity lead us to this critical conclusion: The time to knock is now, during our earthly life:

Knock, and it shall be opened unto you… _Christ (Matt. 7:7) Otherwise, this is what may happen later:

“Sir! Sir!” they said. “Open the door for us!” But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” Therefore keep watch [investigate]… _Christ (Matt. 25:11-13)

The same principle applies to our relationships with people. We breathe whatever fragrance we spread. If we spread kindness, we receive kindness; if we spread prejudice, we receive prejudice. If we look for other people’s faults, they will look for our faults:

Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed.190 _Bahá’u’lláh

Christ declared this promise:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. _Matthew 6:14-15

He also offered this prayer:

Forgive us the wrong we have done, as we have forgiven those who have wronged us. _Matthew 6:12

Noted psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer offers a personal story that confirms the message of mutual forgiveness. He states that, when he was a child, his father abandoned him. At some point, Dr. Dyer decided to find him. But his father, who feared child custody payments, would not allow him. This desperate and futile search left Dyer helpless and hopeless. At last, the news came that his father had died. With much persistence he found the grave in a faraway place. When he arrived on the grave, he felt a sudden surge of spiritual power. At that instant, he lost all sense of anger and despair. With the help given him, he was able to bathe his father in love and forgiveness. That experience, he believes, changed everything in his life. Doors that had remained closed to him began to open. He experienced the profoundest spiritual transformation. Forgiveness, he believes, was the key that opened to him countless blessings.

Let me now share a personal experience to further confirm God’s promise of reciprocity. Many years ago, I was severely mistreated by someone. Later I encountered an opportunity to show my inner feelings to the person who had oppressed me. Not only did I extend forgiveness to him but love as well. Sometime later I had a dream. I saw a vast circle, like a rainbow, above me. Along the circle appeared these two messages: “Your sins are forgiven. Your wishes will come true.” The messages were inscribed in the handwriting of the person I had forgiven. For my attitude, I was doubly rewarded. The second message offered me another gift. Perhaps we should all be grateful to those who mistreat us. They are not our enemies but helping friends. They hold one of the three keys to forgiveness!

We are oppressed
We forgive the oppressor God forgives us

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