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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of February 6, 2017

Joyful living requires giving.

Most people are selfish and self-centered, focusing only on what benefits them. Such thinking claims that the more you have, the more you accumulate, and the more attention you receive, the happier you'll be.

Yet, most of the time, such selfishness only makes a person more depressed than ever. This is because when all you focus on is yourself, you'll always want more, and you'll never be satisfied with what you have. On the other hand, if you live focused on how you can bless others and serve them, then God will give you joy.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

Likewise, in John 13:1-17 Jesus is seen washing his disciples' feet; he sets an example by humbly giving himself to his disciples. Then, in John 13:17, Jesus tells them, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." In other words, you will be blessed, which in the Greek has the meaning of being happy, if you give and serve others. The Bible makes it clear that joyful living requires giving.

God loves you not because of what you do, but because of who He is.

At its heart, the Gospel is the story of a God who so deeply loves you and me that he was willing to humble himself, to suffer, and to pay the ultimate price just so that we could personally know him. We were powerless; there was nothing we could do to know God. Yet, he loved us so much that he gave us an opportunity to know him.

Romans 5:6-8 gets at the heart of how deeply God loves us: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We didn't earn or deserve God's love (we were still powerless and we were still sinners). However, God loved us anyway, because God is love (1 John 4:8) -- that is, his nature is love. God can't help but to love us, because that's what he is.

In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul writes about the nature of God's love for us: Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.

Nothing you do can cause you to earn or deserve God's love. You can't earn God's love, but he loves you anyway -- that's why it's called grace. God loves you, because he is love not because you have earned his love.

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