Recently we saw another Thanksgiving come and go. The Christmas season is now upon us, and the big rush to find the perfect gift for your loved one is on. It seems anymore that stores prepare for Christmas earlier and earlier, and more and more stock is put into the retail boom that occurs at the end of every year. “Black Friday”, of course, epitomizes this trend: the Friday after Thanksgiving, the day when retailers get out of the negatives and back into the black ink, seems to get crazier every year with stores opening earlier and earlier and more rushing than ever. Some retailers were even open on Thanksgiving day! All matter of selfish behavior is manifest on Black Friday. What compels people to act this way?
The Christmas shopping season shows us where the American consumer climate resides. The modern American consumer is constantly under attack with all the advertisements and incentives to go out and buy, buy, buy! There is very little that keeps you from buying: prices are slashed, and if you do not have much money, you can always apply for a line of credit. The ease of purchasing goods, the lack of need to have money upfront, and the constant marketing of products has led to high debt loads and the need for bigger and bigger houses to store all the “stuff” we own. What should we, as Christians, think about our society and the modern American consumer?
We are not trying to claim that it is wrong or bad for us to purchase things. We all have material needs, and it is right for us to work and support our families (1 Timothy 5:8). It is good for us, nevertheless, to show some concern about many of the trends in our society.
Being at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). Every year there are reports of arguments and fights and all kinds of other forms of anger and divisiveness when it comes to shopping for gifts. People tend to get very ugly and selfish when it comes to getting gifts, a rather ironic and sad truth, and something that should not be true of us!
Owing no man anything but to love one another (Romans 13:8). In our modern society, debt is a way of life; the economy is in many ways based upon it, and few are those who can live without ever needing some form of credit or a loan. Regardless, we must strive to act sensibly when it comes to such financial decisions. Thousands upon thousands of people today are taking out loans and credit cards and all they are purchasing are the niceties of life. Often both the husband and the wife must work many hours just to keep the debts paid on time. There is wisdom in the words of Paul, and we would do well to work to be as debt-free as possible!
Making a god out of money. Jesus establishes the following in Matthew 6:24:
“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
“Mammon” is the term used to describe money and riches. If there is an universal religion right now in America, it is the worship of the Almighty Dollar, and many are those who seek it. The Christian, however, must recognize that the goal is Heaven, not money, and we must keep focused on the goal (Matthew 6:33). With money comes responsibility, and if we have been greatly blessed we must work to build up treasure in Heaven by helping those in need and directing our resources to spiritual works (1 Timothy 6:17-19). We live in a land that loves money; let us love the Lord and do what we can to help others!
Ethan R. Longhenry