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The Law of Reciprocity

The Law of Reciprocity

The servant and Rebecca

  1. We start with Abraham and a bride for Isaac Gen 24:30

Short story:

Abraham asked his senior servant to go to the land of his relatives and get a bride for his son Isaac. He told the servant not to come back without a bride and told him exactly what to expect and do. The servant found Rebekah at the well and she got him water and pulled up water for his camels, so he knew she was the one.

We read in E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes that when Laban saw, he did something. This is a characteristic of Laban, in fact many people have the same characteristic. That is, people will do, when someone else does something first.

As soon as he (Laban) had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring and then offered his hospitality. He received first and then gave.

Whereas Rebekah showed kindness before she received anything and then won the prize. The perfect husband.

Jacob taking his family away from Laban

          2. We move on Jacob leaving Laban

Short story:

Jacob worked long and hard for Laban and left him. Laban chased them and they made amends. Jacob was on his way to see his brother Esau, whom he had challenges with many years before. Jacob makes a gift to Esau, but Esau didn’t want to take them.


Genesis 30 – 32

Laban had manipulated and cheated Jacob for over twenty years. Both Rachel and Leah had seen how badly their father had Jacob and had readily agreed to leave with him. Jacob and his family leave secretly and hastily. Rachel took the family idols with her and when Laban found out that they had left with the “Terephims”.

From here we have Jacob going to back to his homeland where he had a bad separation and there was anger. God told him to return and He let him see that there were two angels protecting him. When he was getting close to Essau he was told that Esau was coming with 400 men.


Gen 32:13-18

He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkey s. He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.” He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you? then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’ ”

Jacob meeting Esau

Genesis 33:10


“No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably


     3. Finally, we look at Proverbs and the double-edged sword of currying favor or buying friendship.

There is a fine line between giving a gift and a bribe. How do you distinguish between the two? The only way to determine the correct answer, we need to look at the intent. One of the easiest ways to look at it would be to ask, “Would you give this to gift to a friend?”

But it has been proven time and again that the offering of a gift or small token has influenced the building of relationships and larger orders. Generally speaking, be thoughtful about what you give and the timing of the gift.

Proverbs 19:6


Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.

Look For Opportunities To Do Things For Others

The starting point of the law of reciprocity is to do things for others. Something as simple as opening in the door for someone or getting someone a cup of coffee is a very powerful technique that you can use to cause people to like you and to feel obligated to you.

The Socratic Method

The Socratic Method means to simply, ask a lot of questions. The more questions you ask of another person and listen closely to the answers, the more the person will like you and be more open to trusting you.

The more questions you ask during a negotiation and the more open you appear to see things from another person’s point of view. You’ll find that they will be more reasonable as well. They will follow the law of reciprocity.

5 Reciprocity Tips for Businesses

  1. Make customers feel special and unique
  2. Give customers a gift of value that benefits their lives outside their relationship with your business or the use of your product.
  3. Suggest ways that customers may reciprocate.
  4. Be the first to give.
  5. Don’t let the circle end; keep the relationship going.


Chuck Groot is an author, speaker, teacher. His love of God has spanned over 6 decades and he finds the more he studies the Bible, the less he knows, the more he succeeds the more dependant on God he becomes, and that there is nothing outside of loving God our Father and being loved in return.


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