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RELIGION

Plenty of 'Charlie Browns' who need us at Christmas

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By Gene Andrews
Columnist

Saturday, December 9, 2017

“But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (2 Corinthians 8:7)

"Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

This line, spoken by Charlie Brown from the movie "A Charlie Brown Christmas," rings too true in the minds of many at Christmas season. This season of joy and jingling bells, friends and food, as well as gifts and good times is a season of depression, loneliness and unfulfilled desires for others.

With the knowledge of this, churches and Christian people really put on an all-out effort to try to help others through this season. Food distribution, putting money into the kettles of the Salvation Army, and giving toys to the Marines’ Toys for Tots campaigns are ways we try to help those who are struggling through this season.

In addition, we fill boxes with gifts and send to those serving our nation in foreign lands and donate shoes and clothing to various organizations to meet the needs of the less fortunate. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are inundated with church groups hosting parties and singing Christmas carols with residents. A quick internet search on Christmas gifts for orphans brought up over 500,000 hits in less than one second.

Truly this is a season for an outpouring of love. It is the season of giving. My desire is that when we give, that our giving is for the right reasons. Some people give large gifts out of guilt for things they have done. Others give to impress people or to curry the favor of someone.

I hope that our giving is based on a more altruistic goal. Christmas is the season of giving because it is the season we celebrate the greatest gift. We remember the truth of Scripture that "God so loved the world that He gave His Son." In response to receiving this gift, our desire should be to become like God in the area of giving. Scripture reminds us that "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Jesus tells us, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).

Also, as we take time to help the poor and needy during this season of giving, let us remember that those who hurt in this season of the year hurt in all seasons of the year. Hunger pangs are just as strong in April as December. Exposure to the extreme heat and humidity of July and August is not much different from dealing with the cold and wind of January. People in nursing homes would enjoy a visit in September or October just as they enjoy them in December.

As you are practicing the gift of giving this Christmas season, why not put on your calendar a time to repeat this same effort in March, July, or September? Giving is not a once-a-year obligation but a year-round responsibility.

And while you are at it, think about a “Charlie Brown” you know who just might benefit from a Christmas card from you.

Dr. Gene Andrews is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University and the minister of education and outreach at First Church of Christ in Washington, N.C.

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