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  • Writer's pictureRick LoPresti

Reciprocal relationships

“A reciprocal action or arrangement involves two people or groups of people who behave in the same way or agree to help each other and give each other advantages (Cambridge Dictionary).” In the Bible, there are things that have reciprocal relationships. They foster each other. Here are four of them:

1. The heart and the mouth. This is even true naturally. There is now evidence that oral and cardio health are directly connected. Poor health in both is caused by something called plaque, and it is now believed that plaque build up in the mouth can enter the bloodstream through the gums and also build up in the arteries around the heart leading to their clogging and a heart attack. There is a reciprocal relationship between what is in our spiritual heart and the words we speak. What is in our heart will come out of our mouth one way or the other and what we speak affects our heart as well (Deut 30:14, 1Sam 2:1, Job 33:3, Ps 17:3, Ps 19:14, Ps 49:3, Prov 16:1 & 23, Ecc 5:2, Mt 12:34, Mt 15:18, Lk 6:45, Rom 10:8-10). You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool God any time (Ps 55:21, Is 29:13). You can have thoughts cross your mind that you can control and dismiss before they have any real effect; but once you express them in words, they become more powerful and can impact our inner man. This is true of good and bad words.

2. Similarly, thoughts and deeds are reciprocal (Gen 6:5, Ps 10:4, Ps 56:5, Ps 92:5, Prov 16:3, Is 59:7, Is 65:2, Is 66:18, Jer 6:19, Jer 23:20, Mt 15:19, Rom 2:15). Not every thought that crosses our mind should nor will become an action. That is up to us. However, what we consistently feed our mind and what it dwells on will eventually be acted out. We are what we eat, the saying goes. Science shows that the synapses in our brains can change. Synapses are the neural connections that transmit messages through electrical signals in the brain. Our brains are literally hardwired to operate along the pathways they have learned, but this wiring and routing can be changed if we choose to consistently change our behavior. Again, this can be for good or evil.

3. Truth and righteousness (1Ki 3:6, Ps 15:2, Ps 40:10, Ps 45:4, Ps 85:10-11, Ps 96:13, Prov 12:17, Is 48:1, Zech 8:8, Eph 5:9). When we learn and believe truth, it will cause us to alter our behavior to be righteous. Righteousness can be simply defined as doing what is right (1Jn 3:7). The qualifier in 1John 3:7 is “as He is righteous”. That is why we need truth to have righteousness. We cannot define righteousness on our own. That is the lie the serpent told Eve in the garden (Gen 3:5), and he has been telling the world ever since (Rev 12:9). Only the scriptures can teach us truth (Jn 1:14, Jn 14:6, Jn 17:17, 2Tim 3:15-17, 2Pet 1:16-21). Once we have a scriptural definition of righteousness, practicing it leads us into more truth. God reveals His truth to those that seek Him (Mt 13:10-18).

4. Conversely, sin and deception also have a reciprocal relationship (Deut 11:6, Job 15:35, Job 31:9, Ps 36:3, Ps 55:11, Prov 26:26, Jer 8:5, Jer 9:5, Rom 1:18-32, Rom 7:11, 1Cor 15:33, Eph 5:6, 2Thes 2:10-12, 2Tim 3:13). We are deceived into thinking that choosing to sin will make us happy and bring good results. That has been the case since the first sin (Gen 3:1-7). Then, if we continue in sin we perpetuate more deception. This is manifested several ways. Instead of repenting, we lie about why we did it and that we are responsible for our own actions. Instead of acknowledging that our behavior is wrong, we justify it. This downward spiral of sin and deception will continue until we declare ourselves hopeless or we become reprobate through continued refusal to repent and dulling of our conscience. Paul described this as being past feeling, which is the Greek work apalgeo (Eph 4:19). That means to cease to feel pain or become callous. Strong defines it as “those who have become insensible to truth and honor and shame”. Paul also described this as “having their conscience seared with a hot iron (1Tim 4:2)”. This is the Greek word cauterizo which is where we get the word cauterize. It is like when someone’s nerves are so damaged that they no longer feel physical pain. We might be tempted to think that not feeling pain would be wonderful, but pain is the body’s warning system. When we no longer feel pain, we are no longer warned of danger and injury. This can happen to us spiritually if we continue too far down the path of sin and deception. Romans 1:18-32 fearfully describes the destructive pattern when unchecked. Also, see 2Thessalonians 2:7-12. If your conscience bothers you when you sin, that is a sign there is still hope. It is the person who no longer feels the conviction that sin is wrong that is in the greatest danger. There is a difference between conviction and condemnation, and God is gracious to give us repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (2Tim 2:25).

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