We barely have time to finish “giving thanks” before slamming down the turkey feast and rushing out the door to be the first in line to get in on the once in a lifetime Black Friday deals. Employees can no longer look forward to a guaranteed day off to spend with family and loved ones. The frenzy starts building the week before with ads proclaiming “today only,” “last chance deals,” or “early bird bargains.” One ad even outright calling it “Friday Night Madness!” (Which is probably the most truthful claim out there.) Stores are in breakneck competition with one another thus opening earlier and earlier each year, some Thanksgiving morning or the night before. It’s not just Black Friday, but Black Week, now spilling over into “Cyber Monday.”
Now, I’m all for a good deal and feel one should never have to pay full price for anything. Especially since most things are marked up to astronomical amounts to begin with, and the 50% off price is probably closer to what the original price should be. However, as tempting as the Black Friday deals can be, I am not one to go camp out in the cold overnight in front of the store. Or risk life and limb to get the last bargain deal off the shelf and wait forever in the check-out line amongst a sea of cranky shoppers and cashiers.
I grew up with an advertising agency father. We sat around the dinner table thinking of creative ad slogans and jingles. I also have a degree in advertising and graphic design. So I totally understand the strategy of how to convince others that they can’t live without the latest, shiniest, coolest new gadget, and this “today only deal” approach is the perfect bait. Black Friday is the pinnacle of advertising finesse. Appeal to the greed, but don’t show the downside… People are getting hurt stampeding in the store when the doors open, fighting and yelling at one another, and plunging into crippling debt. All over what? “Stuff.” Satan is the master of convincing us that our worth is wrapped up in our “stuff.” Our identity determined by what we own, drive, live in and wear. And what better way to feed that than through an all out materialistic greed fest.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
The pursuit of material things blackens our hearts towards the things of eternal value. When we are more focused on acquiring and protecting our earthly possessions, we lose sight of the more important things. Jesus clearly told us and showed us what those things of eternal value are and where our “ treasure” should be. In the things that cannot be stolen, nor be destroyed. Things like love, wisdom, faith, friendships, and an eternal relationship with God.
I love the phrase, “ You’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.” We can’t take our stuff with us into eternity. It is not our accumulation of earthly goods that will determine our place before God and with Him. I don’t think God will ask us on judgment day how much we amassed and how well we protected and took care of it. Instead, He will ask, “What did you do with my Son Jesus?” and “How well did you love Me and others?”
My times in Kenya have brought this home to me. (See my previous “Less is More” blog post.) The Kenyans have far fewer material things than we Americans do, but they have a contagious faith and joy. It was so freeing to be with them when the focus was on enjoying one another’s company. Delighting in the things of God together, instead of what one another was wearing, or homes or possessions were.
I pray as we are entering into Advent and the Christmas season that we will continue to be thankful that our identity is in WHO and WHOSE we are, instead of what we do or what we have. That we will keep Christ in Christmas and allow our hearts to be captured with those things of eternal value, giving proper perspective on the earthly things we treasure.
For His Glory,
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