By Pamela Palmer, Crosswalk.com
Stores open as early as Thanksgiving Day over Black Friday weekend, and the lines are usually wrapped around the building. There’s a common concern that Black Friday shopping takes away from the spirit of thankfulness that Thanksgiving draws much needed attention to. Christians may feel unsure about how to handle Black Friday, and those apprehensions are both legitimate and worth exploring. We wonder how this holiday that once ended with everyone around the television watching a football game and passing the pumpkin pie became a deal-shopper’s favorite time of year.
Whether you spend the holiday cozied up at home with loved ones, or take advantage of Black Friday deals, let’s consider ways we as followers of Christ can keep the spirit of gratitude alive and intact.
Reflect on His Goodness
Every year seems to go faster than the previous, and days become a blur in the grand scheme of the year that will soon be behind us. As one year comes to an end, we find ourselves gazing ahead to the year to come and all the events, responsibilities, and dreams we envision.
Although we should make time to reflect on God’s goodness each day, this time of year holds us accountable. We pause to practice thankfulness. We get to privately, and also communally, reflect and give thanks for the goodness of God. We take a moment aside from the busy routines of our lives and praise Him for who He is, all He has done, and what He has given us. We find ourselves in sacred space when we enter into moments of worship to our loving, perfect, and holy God, who takes care of our every need.
“The Lord is good to all, He has compassion on all He has made” (Psalm 145:9).
As you’re putting together your Christmas shopping list and mapping out which stores to visit on Black Friday, be sure to first take time to thank God and let your mind ponder His goodness. Because there is truly nothing or no one else like Him. His love is unconditional, His will is perfect, and He is truly good.
Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude
We aren’t limited to prayers of thankfulness just on Thanksgiving. Rather we can incorporate different ways of showing gratitude well in advance, and truthfully, all year round. Perhaps there are new traditions that you and your loved ones can participate in to show gratefulness all month long leading up to Thanksgiving Day. When you rise, throughout the day, and before you close your eyes to sleep, integrate thankfulness into your prayers, your conversations, and how you interact with others. Give your heart time to be grateful for who God is and all you have.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
The reality is that some years are tough and you may be frustrated or disappointed with your circumstances. Even when we don’t have much, even when we’re waiting for breakthrough or deliverance, we can still embrace gratitude. We can approach God with hearts full of thanksgiving for who He is and for not only what He has done, but what He will do in our lives. With a deepened trust, it is possible to give thanks to God and foster a thankful heart in every situation.
Be a Courteous Shopper
As followers of Christ, we need to shine bright in all situations, even when it comes to snagging the best deals of the year. Be courteous and act different. What if we practiced the fruit of the Spirit as we filled our carts and saved a few dollars? Imagine how peaceful your shopping trip would be if you walk in discipline, gentleness and patience. Imagine how you will encounter others or difficult situations that arise if your heart is prepared in kindness, goodness, and joy.
“Be wise in the way you act toward others; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).
Respond to harsh tones and short fuses with love, allowing the shopping weekend to be a chance to show others God’s goodness. If we can bring peace and love to a weekend that is usually marked by attitudes of pushiness and frustrations, we will be salt and light to a culture in need.
Spend within Your Means
We can show gratefulness for what the Lord has entrusted us by not over extending ourselves financially, or indulging in things we or our loved ones really don’t need. I personally love giving gifts, but a meaningful gift doesn’t have to break the bank or create unmanageable amounts of debt. Perhaps that means shopping throughout the year to spread out the expenses, or putting a little money aside each month toward a Christmas gift fund.
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
In American culture, we feel the pressure to accumulate a lot of stuff. The more one has, the better off they must be doing. The size of the gift equates to the amount of love. But we know those are false assumptions and are quite dangerous ways to think.
God wants us to be good stewards and not to literally buy into the message of this world that to have more is to live better. By shopping within your means, you can give knowing that you are doing so in a way that will bless the recipient and keep your own finances in good shape.
Shop with Loved Ones
If shopping is on your to-do list this Thanksgiving, consider making it a family affair. I enjoy shopping over the holiday weekend, and I use it as an opportunity to get together with family and friends—the very people that I am incredibly grateful to have in my life. We slowly make our way through the stores, sharing conversations, and partaking in coffee or a meal together. We can make Black Friday shopping a time of fellowship and tradition instead of getting caught up in the chaos and stress.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
When we’re with a friend, we may do better at remaining patient and kind to others. Shopping with someone may even hold you accountable to staying within your budget. Truly, good friends sharpen one another, and a friend’s presence can help you to remain thankful and righteous on Black Friday.
Be the Reason Someone Is Grateful
Relationships are a huge part of life—whether someone is a part of your family, your friend circle, a colleague, or someone you pass by once in a grocery store. We all have opportunities every day to help others. We can do this by lightening the load for someone else, blessing one another with kindness or prayer, or by showing them God’s love through our words and actions. Perhaps this time of year the Spirit is nudging you to make amends or forgive.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
The troubles and trials we endure in life are surely made a little easier to endure when we have good people in our lives to support us. This Thanksgiving, do more to serve others, give of your time, and let those you encounter experience God’s righteousness in you because of the work Jesus has done in your heart.
Whatever you choose to do this Thanksgiving, and however you decide to engage with Black Friday, do so with a heart full of gratitude. The Lord is giving, kind, and merciful to His beloved children. We truly have plenty to be grateful for, and this is a wonderful time of year to pause and reflect on His goodness and to model lives of righteousness and thankfulness.
Photo credit: Getty Images/DGLimages
Pamela Myers Palmer is a writer, ordained chaplain, and the founder of upheldlife.com, the platform on which she produces weekly devotionals and faith resource articles to inspire keeping faith at the center of life. She is in pastoral ministry and gets to share in the emotional and spiritual lives of many people. She thrives each day on faith, coffee and music. She has been published with herviewfromhome.com and biblestudytools.com. Pamela resides in the Midwest, is married to the perfect man for her, and has two children who add plenty of joy and chaos to her life.