Don’t get me wrong, I love bargains as much as the next guy, but sometimes I think Black Friday shows the blackness of our hearts.
People spend days thinking about and planning a day of feasting with their family and then the next thing you know it’s 3 a.m. Friday and they’re standing in a line outside (insert store name here) waiting to get that awesome deal on a 52″ television or sleek computer or that one toy the child can’t live without.
Let’s just get something straight: the child can live without it. Families can live without an enormous flat screen television. Teenagers can live without having the newest computer.
You know what people can’t live without? Water. Food. Medicine.
On Friday, as millions of Americans run into stores to do early Christmas shopping and collect as many sale items as their cars will allow them, many children and families across the world are wishing they had the one thing that would keep them alive: water.
Did you know that last Christmas Americans spent $584 billion? Americans alone… which (obviously) doesn’t count the rest of the world who celebrate with gifts. While only $20 billion a year would give the whole world clean water? The whole world.
So this year, instead of spending money amid the hustle and bustle of stores around town, I’m taking the money I would have spent on Black Friday and putting it toward clean water for the world. It might not be much and it won’t change the reality of poverty, malnutrition or the devastating affects of life without clean water, but it will make a difference.
Alternatives for Black Friday:
The list is endless, but start by making memories with your family. They won’t always be around, so cherish the time you have with them. Some of these ideas involve money (and giving it away) and some don’t, but all involve making memories and redeeming the time we are given on this earth.
- Forgotten Christmas. A ministry of Gospel for Asia, you can purchase gifts (including Bibles, chickens, mosquito nets, water wells and purifiers and more) for people in Asia. Click here for more information and to give.
- Family movie day. Grab the popcorn, make hot chocolate and settle down for a long winter’s nap (or just a day full of Christmas movies).
- Family game day. See above. Only substitute movies for games.
- Make Christmas gifts. Instead of pouring out your money, pour your heart into a handmade gift for friends and family. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas, or you could think of your own. Don’t believe the lie that you can’t do it or that whoever you’re making it for won’t like it – everyone appreciates thoughtful gifts, especially in this day and age of materialistic consumerism.
- Serve others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or check out this awesome list of RACK – Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, pick some and make it your goal to out-serve others. With a goal like that, who can lose?
- Pack a Shoebox. Operation Christmas Child boxes are an awesome way to remember the needs of others and do something about world poverty. Check out 101 ways to pack a shoebox here.
- Buy to end poverty. There are many awesome ministries who have taught women (some of whom are widows) to make paper beads and necklaces, ornaments and more. Katie Davis taught women to make paper beads out of her Amazima ministry. Bead for Life has a great selection of necklaces, shea butters and lotions and an ornament, all providing great opportunities to check names off your Christmas list while helping the world.
- Read. If you need an idea for what to read check out the November/December issue of Real Truth Matters Magazine and be encouraged by reading stories of believers from around the world.
Challenges for shoppers:
I’m not against shopping or deal-hunting (I can’t tell you the last time I bought something that wasn’t on sale), so if you find yourself shopping for bargains on Black Friday, here are a few challenges for you:
- Live the Gospel. Be sacrificial and aware of those around you, treating others better than they deserve, just as the Lord treats us.
- Don’t complain. Set an example for those around you (especially if shopping with family) and stand out from among the crowd so easily beset with negativity.
- Smile. Never underestimate the power of a turned-up mouth.
- Strike up a conversation. While waiting in line, reach out to a stranger and strike up a non-confrontational conversation. Topics could range from what they’re shopping for (and for whom), their Christmas traditions, where they go to church or how you can pray for them. Always be ready to give an account of the Hope that lies within you.
- Choose joy. If something happens that goes a little outside your plans, try to take it in stride and choose joy over anger, sadness or even frustration.
- Spread Christmas cheer. Elf says the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, but I think spreading the joy of our Savior’s birth also comes by doing what He said, which includes extending grace to others and offering Christ-honoring words of encouragement, love and respect to others.
- Remember who you represent. As believers we are ambassadors for Christ and aren’t just representing ourselves or our families, but Jesus as we walk through our lives (which includes walking the aisles of the packed department stores). Arm yourself with patience and a loving attitude and seek to glorify God more than gain the best earthly bargain.
- If you really want to get radical… don’t buy anything for yourself. When I was growing up, my mom wouldn’t let me buy things for myself after November 1 because it was too close to Christmas. I still like to apply that simple rule – it keeps the focus on others, as it should be during this blessed time of year.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 ESV)