Dale Meyer, the president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, has some good thoughts for these days:
These days after Thanksgiving now have names, “Black Friday,” “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” The names show what our culture truly values-stuff, buying and getting stuff, and all the businesses that thrive on this culture of consumption. Remember that “consumption,” the old word for tuberculosis, a dread disease? The culture of consumption is so pervasive that even church people may not see the fundamental challenge, this disease eroding our reliance upon God. Do we finally rest our lives on the stuff we can see, buy and enjoy, or faith, trusting in the promises of God? (2 Corinthians 5:7). Even tomorrow’s “Giving Tuesday” is disguised consumption. It just happens to flow to charities instead of capitalist businesses, but it’s still about money.
St. Paul: “You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain” (Galatians 4:10-11). Paul had labored to free the Gentiles from their notion that what they did (for us these days, acquire or give) made life good before God and others. Apply Paul’s arguments to our consumption. “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law (by what you buy, a legal transaction) but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16). “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law (by the things you’ve built up) or by hearing with faith?” (3:2). Yes, we do need stuff, “daily bread,” to live, but consumption is no Gospel; it’s in the law. If I do this then… If I don’t buy this, then… “‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (3:10). Consumption will prove a fatal disease.
Can a person of faith shop on “Black Friday,” “Small Business Saturday,” or “Cyber Monday?” Yes, so long as you don’t value the quality of your life by what you have and acquire. Christ sets us free from slavery to stuff. “Giving Tuesday” thrives on altruism, selfless concern for the welfare of others, and that benefits countless people, but don’t give as a guilt offering because you spent on yourself the previous days. Give because He loves you so much that He gave Himself for you and now through you His gifts can flow to others. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). Who’s your Lord, God or mammon? (Matthew 6:24).