Balanced Consumerism

I had never experienced Black Friday before.  But I decided to try to get some deals on Christmas presents...and maybe a little something for myself.  I decided I would be amongst the crowds on that shopping day after Thanksgiving.  We ventured out at midnight.  We approached the line of people waiting to get into the store and I was mesmerized from there on out.  The doors opened.   People flooded in, and immediately began grabbing things.  Some people looked overwhelmed.  Some looked thrilled.  It seemed that everyone grabbed merchandise, and hollered to their friends or family.  They stood in the purchase line with carts and bags full of merchandise.  They were on a mission...their Black Friday mission.  And I judged them.  I was thinking to myself, "Do you realize that you've turned the day after Thanksgiving into a commercial holiday?  Do you see the excess that you're relishing in?  Do you realize what you're doing?"  And then I realized I needed to take a step back and think about the fact that I too had ventured out at midnight.  I too had stood in line to get into the store.  I too was grabbing merchandise.  And I too was going to wait in the next massive line in order to purchase my items.  Of course I told myself I was there because I was getting a better deal on Christmas gifts...and that was in part true.  But I was participating in Black Friday just like everyone else.  I shouldn't judge.

  I don't want to be the kind of person that is consumed by commercialism...by all the "stuff" that the ads, billboards, magazines, and culture say that I need.  But I am much more consumed by commercialism than I would like to be.  I buy stuff that I don't need more often than I should.  And daily I think about the fact that I have been to places in the world where poverty is devastating...but yet I am here in America living comfortably.  I have been blessed beyond reason.  So, I find myself constantly struggling with where the line is between need and want...struggling with giving away enough of my resources and time....struggling with buying for others more than myself.  And I will continue to struggle with it I'm sure.

I wonder what God would say about America on Black Friday?  In my mind the day after Thanksgiving is the day that the preparation for Christmas (Advent) officially starts.  In America, in preparation for the celebration of Christ's birth we buy stuff...I buy stuff.  And this past Friday it hit me harder than in any previous year.  I don't know what God would say about Black Friday.  But, I am so convicted that he would encourage us to keep the word balance in mind.  Balance.  Balance what you give away and what you buy for yourself and your family.  Prayerfully consider how the resources you have been blessed with should be allocated.  And keep in mind that it is truly better to give than to receive.  Keep in mind the fact that our Savior was born in a manger...and then spent his life helping the poor and sick.  I encourage you to pray about it.  I'm going to be praying about it a lot more this Christmas season than I have before.  Prayerful consideration about balance.

"...remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'" Acts 20:35.

Amanda Jensen

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