Black Friday Starts on Thursday
If you want to hear a quick, emphatic “NO!” just ask me to go Black Friday shopping with you. There’s nothing more I’d rather not do. It’s my nightmare. Fighting crowds for deals on things I don’t need, spending money I don’t have, is the worst way I could imagine spending my time.
That’s me. I don’t put that on anyone else. For some, the anticipation, savings, and first dibs at new tech is exactly their cup of tea. I don’t begrudge anyone for participating. But I do think there’s something going on that we need to pay attention to, especially if we claim to follow Jesus.
Our American culture, designed around consumerism and marketing, is speaking to us constantly. It’s saying, “what you have now isn’t enough.” It’s screaming, “joy is on the other side of this purchase, all you’ve ever wanted comes with this product.” If you’re paying attention you’ll hear it. Loud and clear.
It’s why Black Friday is now on Thursday. Yep, Thanksgiving Day has been invaded. Gratitude is being pushed aside to make way for greed. Oh, and it’s not just Black Friday on Thursday, it’s Cyber Monday too. If there’s anything left, Giving Tuesday follows.
What if this message, this culture, this pull is at odds with a life that follows after Jesus? What if true joy is found in giving it all away rather than accumulating more? What if companies know that if you spend too much time being grateful for what you have, you’ll be generous with it?
A Better Way Forward
You know what I don’t see lines around the block for? Donations to shelters. Tool pickups for home building projects. Orphans and widows being cared for and “adopted” into families. Yet, if we follow Jesus, this is exactly what should motivate us, move us, and define us.
I’ll be the first to admit this is a work in progress for me. I’m not all I could be. I haven’t given it all away yet. I haven’t adopted. But I’ll tell you something, God is working in my heart to expose the greed and express the gratitude. I’m trying to give more away in directions that matter.
Sometimes we are paralyzed. Frozen. We can’t decide what to do so we do nothing. It’s called “decision fatigue” and it’s the reason most of us who want to be generous, aren’t. I live in downtown Las Vegas and deep need and poverty is right outside my front door. Sex trafficking is a real problem in my city. Way too many people are sleeping on the streets with little hope of housing on the horizon. Statistically this is the worst city/state for women and children. Both are exploited and abused far too often.
Maybe it’s my literal view that has changed my perspective. I have so much. I’m safe. Fat and happy. I have a beautiful family. I have friends and family. I don’t make very much money but my needs are met and even a few wants. And if the gap between me and them is this great, think of the gap between them and those with even more than myself.
I’m not advocating for some sort of political change in economic systems. That’s above my pay-grade. I’m encouraging those who follow Jesus to do so by relinquishing their desire for more stuff and investing in the lives of those in real need and desperation. I’m calling for grateful hearts to crush the greed that so easily creeps in and steals our joy. Generosity is the cure. When we give it all away we find that we everything we really want, we already have.
Here’s how one of Jesus’ closest followers says it…
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:16-18
It’s pretty clear what Jesus modeled for us. A new way to a new life. A new way forward. A spiritual path of love and sacrifice and humility. A love of our neighbor that moves past pleasant words and thought into clear, intentional action and generosity.
So, this year, what will your love look like? What will your generosity do? Who needs you? Where can your extra be someone else’s enough? Comment below and join the discussion!