Black Friday is one of the less welcome American imports. It’s the final Friday in November during which large retailers discount their items for a 24-hour period. It has created scenes of violence as competing shoppers have jostled and pushed each other to grab the best bargains. Previously, prices remained undiscounted until the month of January; goods were at their full prices as shoppers buying Christmas gifts were working to a deadline.
Let’s get a few things straight. There’s nothing wrong with buying things. It’s certainly easier than making one’s own. There’s nothing wrong with seeking bargains; good stewards of money will always seek good value. There’s also nothing wrong with shops offering discounts; it helps clear excess stock and benefits those with the least money.
My problem with this time of year is the greed. Clever retailers assure us that we need their goods, and possessing them would improve our quality of life. We gladly swallow this pill, and hand over the cash. Families get themselves into debt buying things they neither need nor can afford. And all of this is done in the name of Christmas. How clever the enemy is! Conflating Christ’s incarnation with greed, over-indulgence and revelry is an excellent distraction strategy. I’m not so prim a puritan that I won’t give nor receive gifts, nor enjoy a good dinner or two next month. But I would urge caution this Friday, and every ‘shopping day’ thereafter.
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Hebrews 13:5