. . . that my joy might be in you. 

You’ve probably heard the Latin expression quid pro quo. It literally means “something for something.” But it’s often used in the context of business dealings: someone agrees to do something for you, and then you’re expected to do something for them in return. Unfortunately, it can seep into the way we give and receive gifts. In fact, this approach has become so ingrained in many of us that it even affects the way we relate to Jesus.

God has given us a great gift—his saving love. What a joy to realize that, unlike some of the gifts we receive in this world, there’s no quid pro quo with this one. It’s completely free. He doesn’t give it to us because he expects something in return but just because he loves us.

That’s not to say we don’t respond to God’s love by trying to please him in our thoughts, words, or actions. But we’re not paying back a debt. It’s more like a child saying, “I love you” when his father has just given him a big hug. That child can’t really repay the father’s love, but he still wants to reciprocate in some way.

That’s a good thing to keep in mind because it’s easy to make our Christian life all about “doing.” We can lose our joy if we think that we must somehow earn God’s love or repay him for loving us. The truth is that we could never pay God back for all he has given us. Knowing that we are not expected to reciprocate, that we have been given a matchless gift with no quid pro quo, can make our joy complete.

So instead of worrying about what you “owe” God, decide just to live in his love. You could look into the sky on a dark night and wonder at the vastness of the heavens. You could take a deep breath and think how blessed you are to be alive and to be God’s son or daughter. You could sit before a crucifix and contemplate the wounds Jesus suffered for you. As you do this, you may feel a spark of joy kindling in your heart.

The more you grasp the magnitude of his gift, the more joyful you’ll become. So praise and thank the Lord for what he has done for you!

“Thank you, Lord, for your unmatched love!”

Acts 15:7-21
Psalm 96:1-3, 10
John 15:9-11


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