The Law of Compensation


Midweek Faith Lift

August 21, 2019

The Law of Compensation

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


When I think of the word “compensation” what comes to mind is how much and how am I getting paid for this?  And is it fair; is it enough?  What is coming my way as a result of my efforts, actions, words and deeds?  I rarely think of “payback” but sometimes that is what I do receive.  I have given a service, done a good deed, held my tongue when I really wanted to let it fly, and then someone does something especially kind or thoughtful and at some point I recognize it as “payback.”  That kind of compensation as payback, I like!


However, when I say or do something truly tacky or unkind, I have felt that as payback too!  And I usually don’t really enjoy it! When I think about compensation, my thoughts go primarily to my human understanding of this cycle and my very human desire to “give as good as I get!”  I wanted to be able to respond to the snarky remark with just as much snark so as to put the person in their place! I usually think of it three days later! How is that for a “heavenly” consciousness??? 


What I was demonstrating in my snarky way is the reality that we are not punished for our sins, we are punished by them.  That is a different perspective than what Christianity has generally taught about sin.  The reality is that when we withhold love, when we sit in judgment of the other, having no mercy for them or for our own transgressions, we are sitting in a world of hurt and pain and there is no way out except to plot more revenge and retaliation. 


When I pause to reflect on all of this from that prayerful or higher point of view, the truth is that when I give the snarky retort, what I really wanted was to make all the snark stop.  I wanted to somehow stop the hurt by hurting back.  How much sense does that make?  It is not very skillful and usually not very effective.


Jesus our Way Shower, had a lot to say about this and it is not necessarily easy to hear, but it is the Truth.  He talks about the faculty of judgment and this is what he says.

Matthew 7:1- 4

Judging Others

7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? (NRSV)


The first part of that statement is what Butterworth calls the “Law of Compensation.”  It is a universal principle that is operative constantly for all beings, rich or poor, young and old, saint and sinner, all around the world.  You cannot get something for nothing; which means essentially that what goes around comes around. 


You cannot have your good at someone else’s expense and they cannot have their good at your expense, at least not for long.  The Hindus call this Karma and it is eventually balanced, one way or another. There is nothing wrong with the Law of Karma as it is intended to encourage moral behavior so as to attain the Divine.  The difference between the Law of Karma and the Law of Compensation is that in the teachings of Jesus, there is a way out of the endless loop of karmic payback.  It is in the Truth that we are both human and divine right here and now.   We are not, as the Hindu, trying to reach the Divine in order to escape.  We are human/divine beings and we are trying to wake up to that in order to escape the endless cycles of karmic retribution.


Last week, we began with the scripture from John 8:31-32, 

True Disciples

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (NRSV) 

We explored the dynamics of this teaching with respect to our things, to attachment to our “stuff” as forming our identity, our human sense of who we are.  But who we really are, in Truth, is Divine; we just have to wake up to that and realize it in our daily life. 


Now we are looking for the higher, spiritual Truth in our interactions with others: how do we realize Truth in all of our relationships and interactions?  There are a few clues in the words of Jesus that we have heard this morning.  First of all, the instruction is to continue in the word of Jesus so that we are truly his disciples.  This requires us to see the Higher Law of Spirit that is continually unfolding.  Holding fast to old beliefs such as the earth is flat, or humans can never possibly fly, is not the way to follow this higher law.  Nor is holding fast to the desire for retribution or revenge.  There is no law of retribution in God; there is only love or expansion of consciousness.


The only way out of this endless negative cycle of human cause and effect is the Law of Compensation.  Now it seems like a contradiction to say that what goes around comes around, and yet to also say that this very spiritual principle is also the way out of endless cycles of retribution between people.  Yes, we are “punished” by our sins and we cannot escape or bypass the ill effects of what we do in our emotional and spiritual immaturity.  But there is a higher path, a higher consciousness that sees all from that mountaintop view. And that is our way out of suffering, of being stuck in old beliefs of how things should be.


What is the way out that Jesus offers us?  It is the path of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the key to healing and release.  When we forgive, we release ourselves from the prison of expectations.  Forgiveness is the recognition of the Truth of the Law of Compensation: whatever good we put into the world will come back to us and whatever revenge or retribution we put into the world will also come back to us.  Better to embrace freedom through forgiveness than stay stuck in the endless cycle of retribution.


One significant realization for us is that in our human perspective, we can get caught up in the expectation that what we do should come back to us from the same person.  And that is not how it works!  We make the mistake of believing that the recipient is obligated to return what he has received.  That is not how it works.  When we put good energy, generosity, and kindness into the world, it will come back to us, but probably not from the recipient.  This is the law of Compensation; it is without attachment to outcome.  When we can just put good into the world because the world needs it, then we are in an expanded consciousness of love and our good comes back to us in the most surprising and unexpected ways!


Now what about the other half of that statement by Jesus, about seeing the spec in another’s eye rather than the log in your own?  And the instruction to take the log out of your own eye first!?  In Truth, what Jesus is saying to us is that in all conflicts, disharmony and suffering, both parties have a part in it. We tend to be like the Mad Hatter, preferring to say, “In all disputes, both large and small, I keep an open mind.  I always see both points of view; the one that’s wrong and mine!”  That’s how I like to look at it, don’t you!?!?  And as my spiritual director once asked, “How’s that workin’ for you, Deb?”


Well, here’s the rub!  If we do that, look at it that way, then we stay stuck in that law of Karma rather than moving into the spiritual law of Compensation.  What Jesus is telling us is that when we are in conflict, the person we are in conflict with serves as a mirror, reflecting back to us our own shadow side.  The very pattern, behavior, statements that are so irksome and offensive are also ones that we have, or we wouldn’t see them so clearly.  Truly, friends, it is impossible to have a one-sided coin.  And it is not possible to see both sides at the same time unless you have a mirror.  And the truth is that that very annoyingly irritating person who opposes you in this disagreement is serving as a mirror for you.  They are doing you a big favor, if you let them.  They are letting you also see yourself, all of yourself, in this situation.


When we can see the spec that so bothers us in our brother’s eye as our own, then we are on the path to forgiveness.  We can own our part of it and begin the healing process.  How do I recognize when I am in this energy?  Well, for me, whenever I found myself listening to a message like this and thinking of all the people who weren’t here who really needed to hear this….then I was focused on the spec in my brother’s eye!  Attempting to escape meeting the responsibility of the problems that are within me is not the way out of this dilemma. 


The only way out is through; through the process of owning my part, looking at what I believe and then letting go of what is not Truth and what no longer serves me.  That can be hard work, but it is the path to emotional and spiritual maturity.  There is no other way….that is what the Law of Compensation tells us; no short-cuts or by-passes to the realization of Truth or the freedom that comes with the realization of Truth.  We remember that God’s will for us, or Love’s will for us is Good and only Good. As we learn to navigate our lives more skillfully, from that place of compassion, mercy and forgiveness, we claim or good and make it real as we learn to show up with both our Divine/Human nature in all that we say and do.


Blessings on the Path,

Rev. Deb