With the Christmas season and all its commercial blitz and glitz upon us (seen especially on Black Friday), let’s lay aside the grousing and see the grace. No throwing wet blankets over Christmas.
May Christmas always blaze healthy and strong in the fireplace of our Decembers, radiating golden light and drawing loved ones and strangers together around its warmth to share a cup of joyful wonder.
And please, let us lay aside fruitless and, frankly, irrelevant debates about pagan origins. That’s no reason for humbug. I hope it’s true! That would be something to celebrate! Jesus came into the world to redeem us pagans and turn us “from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). If ancient solstice celebrations now mark the moment when the Light of the world came to end our long, dark night, then I think it’s of God. It’s just like him to make Christmas itself a parable of redemption.
If there was ever a reason to clothe our homes in light and feast and sing and give generous gifts of love to each other, and just overall make merry, it’s celebrating the Incarnation! Let not the night be silent! Deck the halls, drink wassail, and let’s sing “Joy to the world” with all our might!
God bless you, Christmas! Even as our culture slides toward secularism, you remain the one annual moment so deeply entrenched in our traditions and economy that with joyful, inextricable stubbornness you sing forth the gospel in the most God-forgetting places — like shopping malls.
Which brings us to Black Friday. What, as Christians, should we make of this high day of consumerism?
That’s exactly the question we should ask. And I think we should take a cue from Christmas itself and think of ways we can make Black Friday serve the cause of Christ and his kingdom!
Here are three suggestions:
1. Make it generous.
Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)
In other words, make Black Friday about loving others. If you’re going to shop, shop to give, give, give. Yes, those of us in the West likely don’t need gifts. But loving generosity is a beautiful thing, and God loves it if it is fueled by faith. Braving the overcrowded stores and long lines in order to take advantage of sales that enable you to be more generous with others — possibly to get that one thoughtful gift that will bring someone else unique joy — is a great reason to shop on Black Friday. Make it an act of love in Jesus’s name, which makes it an act of worship.
2. Make it restrained.
Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15)
Know a few things before you venture out:
Know how much you’re going to give to the poor. As a governor and guard against covetousness and selfish indulgence, resolve to give away some generous percentage of your gift budget to those in true need before you buy your Christmas gifts.
Know your spending limit, and do not go into debt. Buy what you can really afford. If you can’t afford to buy gifts, give the generous gift of your time and service. Let love, faithful stewardship, and self-control rule your purchases.
Know yourself. “Take care.” If you struggle with compulsive buying, or malls stir up sinful covetousness, or you know that you don’t have the patience to show Jesus well in the shopping frenzy, stay home.
3. Make it about Jesus.
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Make Black Friday about more than shopping. Make it a kingdom mission.
Go with someone else with whom you can share nourishing fellowship or share the gospel.
Pray before you go out for divine appointments, and be on the look out for people with whom you can share the gospel.
Bless the harried retail cashiers with a kind word, your fellow harried shoppers with your kind patience, and your harried restaurant waiter with a generous tip.
Be prepared to be generous with the bell ringers, exit ramp beggars, and panhandlers in Jesus’s name. Buy a couple $5 gift cards to convenient fast food places to give away with a gospel blessing.
Pray that God will help you find remarkable deals. God loves to bless generosity and cares whether your shopping will glorify him. Ask him (John 15:7).
I’m sure you can add to this list. The bottom line is this: make Black Friday primarily about Jesus, and not primarily about money or possessions. Be generous, be restrained, and be first about Jesus’s kingdom.
And remember to revel in the Christmas glory! Party more heartily (and purely) than anyone this season. Let the glorious, generous, abundant, joyful, warm, wonderful Light of the world shine brightly in all your celebrations!
“Good Christian men (and women) rejoice, with heart and soul and voice!”