Thanksgiving season is a bit of a paradox in American culture. On Thursday, we’re thankful for everything we have. On Friday, we head out to fight people for the best deals on more stuff, often stuff we don’t actually need. America is culture of materialism, a culture that always needs more. The Church, on the other hand, opposes this lifestyle of materialism and greed. All throughout the Bible, we find warnings about the danger of loving money and focusing too much on our possessions here on earth (Ecclesiastes 5:10; Matthew 6:19-20; Hebrews 13:5).
So, how do we as believers deal with Black Friday? Do we condemn and avoid it altogether? Should we just ignore the issues with it and enjoy the fun? Or, is it possible that there is a way to find some sort of balance between the two?
That’s what we’d like to suggest through this article: a third, balanced option. We don’t need to stay home and boycott Black Friday deals (because who doesn’t like saving a little money?), but we certainly shouldn’t embrace the lifestyle of materialism that Black Friday represents and feeds into. Here are a few tips to help us keep that balance:
1) Pay attention to your relationship with stuff.
Having a lot of stuff isn’t necessary the problem, but needing all the stuff or feeling obsessed with the idea of getting more probably is. We need to pay attention to our attitudes toward material things and recognize if and when we need to step back and reevaluate our priorities. Because if we really listen, we’ll catch ourselves using that word “need” a little too freely..
In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to store up treasures here on earth, but in heaven instead, for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). What we work the hardest at, devote the most time to, and pay the most attention to is probably what we love most, and if that is anything besides God, then that’s idolatry. Ouch. And at the end of this same passage, Jesus warns us that “we cannot serve both God and money.” Because of this, it’s essential that we’re paying attention to our relationship with material things.
2) Hang out with people who have less stuff than you.
It’s really important that we don’t only surround ourselves with people who live exactly the same lifestyles as us. For perspective’s sake, its important that we realized that there are many people in this world that have less stuff than us, many who even lack basic needs. And more than just realize they exist, we need to have relationships with these people; put faces to the needs.
There are a lot of different ways that we can break out of our normal situations and wake up to the needs that are all around us. Here are a few to get us thinking:
– go on a missions trip to a developing country
– volunteer at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, etc.
– deliver meals to shut-ins
And more than just choosing one of these to check off our list and ease our conscience, we have to let these experiences impact us. Not only do we see the needs, but we make sacrifices in our own lives and we do something about it.
3) Consider buying for someone else on Black Friday.
This is a really situation specific suggestion, but we think it can be a great opportunity to bless someone if you can’t normally afford to, or bless someone more abundantly than you normally could. As an example, maybe you know someone who can’t afford to get her son a new winter coat and he’s barely squeezing into his old one. Why not take advantage of the crazy good Black Friday deals and go ahead and buy him a new one?
As Christians, we don’t necessarily have to outright reject Black Friday. What if, instead, we could transform it? What if Black Friday became our biggest opportunity to help by supplying people’s basic needs, and do it on sale?
In conclusion, Black Friday itself is not inherently a bad thing. It’s important, though, that we’re always paying attention to our relationship with material things and learning how to be more and more generous. We think that, if done correctly, Black Friday can present a great opportunity to do just that.
What are some other ways that we can work on keeping this balance between our faith and material things? Leave us your tips, tricks, and stories in the comments!