3 ways to think biblically about Black Friday

November 26, 2014

My husband and I like traditions. Part of it is owing to my own family’s love for all things familiar, but the other part is that we just enjoy doing fun things together. We like to celebrate, and like many Americans, we like Black Friday.

Yes, that is correct. We are some of the many crazy people who venture out on the biggest shopping day of the year. We scour the newspaper ads the day before, while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We make our list and check it twice. And we love every minute of it. Before we had kids, we even got up at hours of the morning that no one should be awake just to find a deal. Now we wait until our kids get up to face the crowds (although my husband is not opposed to going out by himself in the wee hours of the morning). But we still are avid Black Friday shoppers.

If we are honest, some of our enthusiasm over Black Friday is owing to our interest in seeing what craziness is out there (or in my husband’s case, his love for a good deal). But the biggest reason we endure the crowds and the crazy is because there is nothing like being able to finish your Christmas shopping before December even arrives.

Avoid Black Friday?

There are many reasons Christians might avoid Black Friday shopping. Perhaps the most compelling one is the rampant consumerism that seems to dominate all things Christmas in our culture. Black Friday has turned into Black Thursday, Black Wednesday, and Black All Night Long. Some even boycott stores that stay open on Thanksgiving, in protest of the perceived greed that drives many retail stores to forego the Thanksgiving break and get right into the Christmas spirit.

And I’m with them on the problems of greed and consumerism. As Christians, we know that Christmas is about so much more than getting everything on our wish list, getting the best deal, and fighting with another customer for the last toy on the shelf. The Christ of Christmas puts to death the greed and consumerism that so easily entangles us this time of year.

Embrace Black Friday?

But as one who enjoys partaking in a little Black Friday shopping, I hope to offer a different way to think about this day that doesn’t involve boycotting, fighting for toys, or coveting what we cannot have or cannot afford.

Black Friday shopping can be a form of good stewardship. While my husband loves getting a good deal, his purpose in seeking deals is not for bargain’s sake. He wants to steward our money well. He knows we have been given a set amount of resources, and he wants to multiply those resources in a way that honors God and serves others. Black Friday shopping can serve this purpose as well.

Perhaps getting all of your shopping done early enables you to truly focus on the Christ of Christmas, this is good stewardship of time. Perhaps saving a few dollars on your Christmas presents affords you the opportunity to give extra to a missions organization or a friend in need. This also is good stewardship of your finances.

Black Friday shopping can be a way to love your neighbor. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39, Mark 12:31). Nowhere do we see overt self-love like we do on Black Friday. But, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, who enables us to respond differently to the frenetic pace of the holiday season. Black Friday gives us the opportunity to love our neighbor by treating those around us differently. When the pressure rises to fight for a new gaming console or push someone aside in frustration, we can die to our own selfish desires for the next big shiny thing. We can treat our neighbors like we would want to be treated, with love, kindness, and patience.

But we also can love our neighbor in a less obvious way this Black Friday. We can love our neighbor by buying stuff. Boycotting stores for their holiday practices only hurts the men and women at the checkout counter—the very ones who need jobs the most this Christmas. By heading out to stores with open wallets, we can love the workers by keeping them in business.

Black Friday shopping can encourage a healthy spirit of giving. All of us have been given an abundance from our heavenly Father. He delights in giving good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11). He lavishes his kindness on us in Christ (Eph. 1:7-9). As image bearers, we get to experience a small (and broken) taste of this joy when we also give gifts to those we love (2 Cor. 9:7). Because Black Friday can be a day of stewardship for Christians, it also can be a day where we have the resources to buy the gift our loved one so desperately wants or needs.

Black Friday shopping doesn’t have to be all about greed and consumerism. It doesn’t have to be about excessive spending and fights with people over the last flat screen television. It can be a time for Christians to live differently than the world around them—to be in the world and not of it. And on a day that is so often overshadowed by the sins that so easily entangle all of us, that could be good news this holiday season.