Black Friday is not evil. But it can be dangerous (I’m thinking spiritually, but many have found out it can be physically threatening as well. Yikes!). Therefore we must be aware about how to redeem the days, the season and really shopping in general for the glory of God.
It all begins with what is the point of Christmas. Of course, like every day, Christmas is about Jesus. So we redeem Christmas by remembering Christ. That seems like a “duh” but it is amazing how quickly TV’s, Computers, iPads, smartphones, movies, clothing, cars, home décor, food, sales, meeting families’ expectations, bad past holiday memories, etc. can lead our minds to forget Christ regularly. The subtlety of it all is that the material things aren’t philosophically bad either. However, we must be aware that our hearts can make good things ultimate things and that is dangerous. We spot the danger and begin to identify when Jesus has slipped from the center of life when we:
- neglect God for things. Time in the word becomes more inconsistent. Your prayer life weakens. Going days without acknowledging him while consumed with buying things or searching for the right deals exposes idolatry.
- neglect people for things. Other people’s needs grow really faint in our mind. Our needs become supreme.
- serve others less. That explains itself.
- begin to think more about what we can get for ourselves (or even worse what we can sneak around to acquire) than what we can give to others.
- find ourselves getting angrier easier, especially when something stands in the way of getting what we want or impedes our shopping time at the store or on the internet.
- find our anxiety increases over gifts, getting that certain item. Trust God’s providence more than you do your abilities to secure what you think you need.
- begin to place the external over the internal. Even if we are generous with our things toward others let’s not make getting gifts more important than cultivating a heart for Christ at Christmas.
Christmas is about Jesus, but as we buy gifts we must remember why we buy them? Christmas is also about giving generously to others and not just to those in your immediate family. This will free you from the anxiety of what you will get and what your family can amass on these major sale weekends. View these sales as opportunities to bless those you love. View these sales as opportunities to be generous to others. Spend some time in the month of December and ask yourself what or to whom you can give this Christmas. As a church we not only have the general giving to the budget, but around Christmas time we always do a Hope 4 All Nations Offering so people can be generous in the task of reaching the nations. But alongside that offering we need to be aware of the needs within our church. Understand that there are needs in your community group. There are needs across your street we can discover as we get to know our neighbors. Remember Christmas is about experiencing the glorious truth – “it is more blessed to give than it is to receive” Acts 20:32. Everyone needs to experience that joy at Christmas time.
Redeem Black Friday by enjoying God’s gifts, the sales, the friendships you can cultivate during the shopping. Make shopping as much about enjoying and loving people as getting and giving gifts. We must view God’s gifts as just that, gifts to be thoroughly enjoyed, but be alert. Prepare your minds for action and be sober-minded not allowing God’s gifts to eclipse him in importance or primacy in your life.
One really practical help the Cordell family has found during these holidays is to guard against your weaknesses. This begins with letting another person into your weakness. Dana knows my weakness is gadgets. I know her weakness is clothing and getting things for her kids. As a couple we are tempted to overspend (more me than her) or to buy more on impulse when things are so cheap (it’s a tie between us). So going into these sales days we set a dollar amount that we can spend this Christmas and then make a list for those gifts we want to give inside the family, those we want to give to people in the church and/or others that are need. We take that list and get only those things on the list. This will sometimes keep us from overextending ourselves financially and guards against impulse buying. Any impulse purchases we usually discuss as a couple and if we can’t agree we don’t get it.
In summary, 1) redeem these days of sales by not forgetting Jesus and being aware of when he is slipping from the center of your affections. 2) Redeem these days by remembering shopping is more about generosity and the joy of giving than it is the joy of acquiring. 3) Redeem these days by enjoying God’s gifts and the people you get to be with in the process. Don’t let it overtake Christ in your life. Although getting things and enjoying them are good, that isn’t meant to be the only thing you think about as the sales papers and ads flash past your eyes. Finally 4) be wise! Set up some helps that guard you from your areas of greatest temptation. So enjoy Christ and enjoy acting like Christ this Christmas who enjoyed things richly and gave sacrificially – even his own life – all for the glory of His Father.