I have a friend who owns a clothing boutique. As you can imagine, she does big business on Black Friday. This year should be no exception according to the National Retail Federation, which forecasts that sales will increase between 3.6 and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion this year.
Blackfriday.com also has some predictions: online shopping will continue to beat out in-store shopping. Hatchimals and Star Wars will again be top sellers. And most of the ads are now leaked well ahead of time.
Here’s my prediction: Americans will put undue financial stress on our families to produce piles of presents yet be none the better for it. Bah, humbug? No, even Scrooges know in their heart of hearts that there is a time for celebration, even time for a little extra push financially to make that merriment ensue. But is there ever a time to say, enough is enough?
The middle section of the Sermon on the Mount (chapter 6 of Matthew 5-7) makes explicit mention of three spiritual disciplines—giving, prayer, and fasting. But I have always felt that the balance of the chapter covered a fourth–simplicity. The section starts off with this admonition:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6:19-21)
One of the last verses of the section is familiar to many of us. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt. 6:33)
The intervening verses contain our “tips” for this year’s Black Friday:
Figure out a way to “treasure” Jesus this year at Christmas instead of…possessions.
You cannot serve both God and materialistic wealth. Using a teaching from earlier in Jesus’ sermon, the best way to dethrone money is to give to the poor, quietly and without notice.
Anything materialistic that produces worry is not good. Trust God for His provision.
To that I would add—debt is no friend. Spend what you have. Don’t flash the credit card for what you don’t have. Debt is a stressor.
Plan your holiday shopping. One website asserts that shoppers will almost certainly spend money on at least one more thing than they intended. A modest proposal: spend a hundred fewer bucks and give one less gift to your people who, goodness knows, already have plenty more than just about anybody in the world. Then contribute that hundred dollars to help the truly needy.