It’s hard not to get sucked into the hype, even if it’s just watching or reading news headlines from the safety of your couch. Black Friday deals are all around us. Social media will show you plenty of opinions to encourage you to get the best deal and then quickly telling you that your heart is as Black as the Friday if you have anything to do with it. Which one is right?
A little of both actually. I suggest the following two arguments.
Black Friday can be incredibly destructive.
If you participate in Black Friday to fill any type of void you feel, then yes, something is wrong with your shopping. But most people who participate in Black Friday won’t agree to that being the case for themselves. It is hard for any of us to realize when we are self-medicating for deep, often unrecognized emotional needs.
Rather, ask yourself this: are you willing to do anything that you aren’t proud of to get a deal? I’m not asking whether you’d trample over an old lady and send her to the hospital (hopefully it’s a small minority that does that), I’m asking if you’d do anything in the moment that would demonstrate actions inconsistent with who you want to be? If you are a Christian, would this experience bring out anything in you that is not of the Kingdom of God?
- cut someone in line
- hoard items to keep others from getting them
- wish ill-will toward others
- spend money you don’t have
- get carried away in the heat of the moment
- miss out on focused time with your family to make this happen
- feed your selfishness in any way
While it’s not a foregone conclusion that Black Friday would cause you to do any one of those, we can all agree that the situation is ripe for it if you are not intentional. So if you can honestly answer yes to any of those scenarios, maybe you should avoid this experience. There’s nothing sinful about walking into a bar. But if you are an alcoholic it is probably not a smart move. Very few of us consider ourselves “shopaholics,” yet the desire for stuff runs rampant in all of us. Like lab rats in a maze, we usually don’t realize how powerfully the system shapes us.
Black Friday can be incredibly productive.
If you are confident that you can look back on all of your experiences on Black Friday and still be proud of the way you carried yourself, and if you can live under Kingdom values while shopping in a hectic situation, then shop without guilt. There is nothing inherently sinful about buying new things, especially buying them on sale. With the right perspective (all your stuff is God’s and none of this defines you), you can actually be a good steward of your resources in moments like these. But it is all about the perspective. We all are vulnerable to perceiving value from the things we own. That’s why we often feel a rush whenever we get something new. Black Friday is this concept on steroids. But we can also learn to be grateful and enjoy the ways that God provides for us.
For myself, I don’t enjoy the feelings I get in these type of scenarios and I certainly don’t like watching what it does to the people around me. As a result, I’m more of a cyber Monday guy from the seclusion of my own computer. But here’s where I would challenge you if like myself, you don’t participate in Black Friday. It’s really easy to judge others whenever they act on values different than our own. While you might quickly jump to judgment against anyone who is shopping on that day, guard yourself from this. You have no idea what others are doing or the condition of their hearts. To continue my analogy of an alcoholic, just because you can’t drink within moderation doesn’t mean that others can’t.
For those of us who shop on Black Friday, and those of us who don’t, let us all remember what faith should look like:
“But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5-6
The problem, I submit to you, is that far more people experience the destructive effects of Black Friday than the productive effects. So give it some thought, with a strong dose of honesty, self reflection, and humility, and make an informed decision on how to spend your time. Just don’t wind up being one of the pictures we all see in the news the following day.