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For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, KJV)

It may seem rather strange to use this scripture during Christmas time, but actually, we always think that this scripture relates only to the death of Jesus Christ. The first thought mentioned in this scripture is that God loves everyone, and loves us so much that He gave His own Son. Jesus was not given as a grown man. He grew in the womb of a woman just like you and I did.

God's loving gift, in human form, didn't come as a 33-year-old man who died for the world. Jesus came as a baby, born in Bethlehem, and this birth is what we celebrate this time of year.

God did not give Jesus to us because of some great time of prayer and fasting offered to Him. God did not give Christ to us because we demanded or even felt entitled to such a gift. God simply gave Jesus to us because God loved us.

As a pastor, I enjoy sending weekly text messages to the membership, composed of a thought the Holy Spirit had just spoken to me moments before, broadcasting that text to the members. Just a couple weeks ago, I sent this text: “During EVERY season, God's Spirit motivates us to give out of LOVE. Don't allow competition, expectation or entitlement be a reason you give.”

We see a commercial Christmas society via TV commercials, sales papers and other advertisements, not to mention hearing co-workers and family members share what they have purchased for their loved ones. All or any of these things can cause us to become overwhelmed with fear, guilt and discouragement that can lead to heavy depression and anxiety - simply because we're unable to get the gifts for others that we so desire to give them.

God gave what He had, and it was enough to do the job. If someone makes you feel guilty about or have a sense of entitlement to what they are openly or silently demanding from you, they don't deserve even what you can afford to give them. The only driving force for any gift should be love.

If we would be honest, the persistent reason we want to give substantial gifts is not that we love people, but because we don't want a negative reaction from them if they consider our gift to be sub-par. That's a horrible way to live, especially if the ones you are giving to are considered your loved ones. If that's the case, where is their love, really?

Please take this time and opportunity to sit down with your family (adults and children) and teach by sharing what giving truly is, and please know that if God gave only by love, how much more should we do the same?

Have a blessed Christmas season, and as Jesus said, don't let your heart be troubled. (John 14:1) I love you all!

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Dr. Shane Wall is the senior pastor of The Feast of the Lord church in Orangeburg.

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