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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of February 16, 2015

Your level of living depends on your level of giving.

Conventional wisdom says that your life will be better if you keep everything you have for yourself. However, God clearly says that your life will be better if you work to make another person's life better.

In Galatians 6:7-9, Paul writes, Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

In other words, what you give to others will affect how they give to you; the amount of love, patience, and kindness that you show to others will affect the amount that they show to you. This principle of giving and receiving applies to many areas of life. For example, if you invest an hour a day into exercising, then you will reap the benefits of that investment—a strong, healthy body. However, if you invest that same time into flipping channels on T.V., then you will reap the benefits of that investment—a wasted hour.

Paul isn't just talking about money or time; in fact, he is focusing on giving into the lives of others. In the very next verse, Galatians 6:10, Paul instructs believers: Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. If you "do good" to others by giving into their lives, then you will benefit.

So, if you don't feel like you're getting the love you should get, then maybe you should ask yourself if you're giving the love you should give. Why? Because you reap what you sow. If you give love, you'll receive love. If you give friendship, you'll receive friendship. If you give mercy, you'll receive mercy. (It is important to note that you may not always receive from the same place you give.)

Therefore, decide to give freely to others, actively look for ways to be a blessing to other people, and deliberately go out of your way to walk in love. Then, watch as the benefits of that giving affect your life. Remember, your level of living depends on your level of giving.

Before you can love others, you must receive God's love for yourself, because you cannot give away something you don't have.

God deeply and intimately loves you! His love for you is unconditional—no strings attached, and there is nothing that you can do to get God not to love you. Indeed, Romans 8:38-39 says that there is nothing that can ever separate us from God's love.

Knowing that God loves you is central to your understanding of the Gospel, for the entire Gospel is based on God's love (See John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10). The good news is that God hasn't withheld His love from us; instead, God has poured out his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).

But what do we do with that love? We know God loves us, but so what? What should we do with God's love? Give it away! Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11). In other words, our response to the news of God's love for us needs to be to love others. Indeed, Jesus repeatedly commanded us to love others (See Matthew 5:43-47, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:27-35, John 13:34-35, John 15:12,17).

However, it is impossible to love others unless you know, believe and receive God's love. 1 John 4:19 says, We love because he first loved us. In other words, we are able to love other people, because God first showed His love to us. If God hadn't shown His love to us, we would have no standard and no example on which to base our love for others.

Similarly, 1 John 4:7 says, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Here again, our ability to love one another is only because love comes from God.

Think of your ability to love others like a glass of water. At first, the glass is empty. If you don't have any water in your glass, then you obviously can't give water to anyone else. But when you hold your glass under a faucet and let the water pour out into your glass, it will fill up. Then, once it is full, your glass will overflow, and you can let the water pour out to everyone around you.

If you don't have love in you, then you can't give love to anyone else. Therefore, you must first receive God's love, before you can love one another.