Avoiding The Snare Of Stuff on Black Friday

By Fin Sheridan

Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying ‘Everything in moderation, except moderation”. Nowhere do we see this principle more clearly than Black Friday – the unofficial herald of Christmas shopping season. We’ve all seen the videos: stampeding crowds, punch ups over the plasma TV deals, people weeping as they miss out on the last smoothie maker.

There’s nothing wrong with Black Friday – in fact, it’s quite a good idea. A dedicated day of discounts, where people can get some Christmas shopping done? Nothing sinful there. However, 1 Corinthians 6:12 springs to mind: ‘“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.’ Whilst shopping, even a large amount of shopping, is not forbidden or sinful, Black Friday does reveal something about the condition of our hearts. Buying lots of nice stuff might be permitted but is it beneficial? Are we buying things or do those things have mastery of us?

This challenges me deeply. Confession time: I am a spender. If I receive some money, it’s normally gone before I have a chance to put it in my pocket. Sometimes Often, I have an urge to just spend. It might be on clothes, it might be on coffee, it might be on a holiday – the ‘what’ doesn’t really matter. The compulsion burns fiercely. Nothing wrong with coffee, clothes or holidays but something in my heart definitely needs checking. Am I mastered by this?

“We spend money and grab possessions to try and get scratch an itch in our hearts: to try and find happiness.”

We don’t often think about it like this but we use ‘stuff’, like sex and alcohol and power and so many other things, as a means of satisfaction. Like magpies, we gather shiny trinkets to put around our nests. We spend money and grab possessions to try and get scratch an itch in our hearts: to try and find happiness. It sounds silly to type it out and maybe it sounds far fetched to read but think for a second. How much energy and time do you and I burn on envy? How much money do we spend on things which, when we stop and think, are so unnecessary?  

This isn’t a “shopping is bad” or a “boycott Black Friday” post. I’m just asking the question: do we really need to max out the credit card today? Does this Christmas really need to outdo the last, in terms of presents and gifts, or can we be satisfied in a different way? Do you and I have stuff… or does our stuff have us?

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