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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 17, 2018

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

God is love (1 John 4:8). God doesn't have to pretend to love you; He can't not love you, because He is love.

In fact, the very actions of God exemplify what love is. The apostle John explains that this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16). Only a few verses later, he further defines love: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9).

Notice that God's love for you is independent of how you behave, who you are, or how you respond to that love.

Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that God loves us regardless of where we are: 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.

Jesus represents God's love for us in what we now call the Parable of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-24). In that allegory, the father openly and lovingly receives his son even though the son had run away, squandered all of his money, and insulted the father. In the same way, God loves us unconditionally.

There is nothing you can do to get God to love you -- He already does. There is nothing you can do to deserve God's love, because, by sinning, you have turned your back on God and are fundamentally no different than the prodigal son. That parable is a clear reminder that God loves you not because of what you do, but because of who He is.

Nothing steals your joy like thinking, "I will enjoy my life when ..."

It's very tempting to think that happiness will come to me once I get something: "I would be happy if I just had a bigger house, another car, a better job, more money, a different wife, a nicer family, a new TV...." But such thoughts are very deceptive.

In truth, all those things we want actually make us miserable; we fight and quarrel about what we want, and then we're upset when we don't get it (see James 4:1-4). Don't get caught up in things that you want or need. Instead, you should not worry about getting what you need; rest assured your heavenly Father will take care of what you need (see Matthew 6:30-32).

It's foolish to make your enjoyment of life hinge upon anything. There will always be one more thing for you to acquire before you can "enjoy life." The more you have, the more you have to worry about, which makes life that much harder to enjoy.

Instead of expecting possessions or circumstances to give you joy, seek the only source of everlasting joy—Jesus. Jesus says he came to Earth "so that [you] may have the full measure of my joy within [you]" (John 17:13). Similarly, Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11).

Jesus offers to make our joy complete and to give us the full measure of his joy. Since Jesus is wholly God, His joy is complete and whole joy. That Jesus offers us such joy is astonishing.

Therefore, find your joy in God for in his presence is fullness of joy (see Psalm 16:11). Don't let your joy depend on getting all the things you want because there will always be more things that you don't have, and therefore there will always be more things that will prevent you from enjoying life. Let Jesus be your joy, rather than waiting to enjoy life "when...."

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