Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday

This Friday is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The term Black Friday comes from the idea that many retailers are operating in the Red for much of the year, their business is struggling. However, beginning on Black Friday many business are able to erase the Red deficit in their bank accounts and the numbers become Black meaning they are now making money.

As I think about Black Friday and look back at some of the news surrounding the Black Fridays of the past I think the term is a better description of man's heart. Look back if you want at some of the news stories of people fighting to get in a store, people getting trampled to death by people who want to get a toy doll so badly that they have no concern for those around them. People are fighting over a toy that their kids will play with for a day or two and either get tired of it or break it. We want, so desperately, to see the good in others especially this time of year but too many times we see the depravity of man's heart. We want people to think we are good people but just watching the news recap of what took place on Black Friday will remind us that we are not good people.
Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Ecclesiastes 9:3 - This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.
I'm not trying to pull a Debby Downer on everyone this season but the reality is that we are a society in pursuit of things that will not matter in eternity, we are pursuing things that will one day be destroyed. I have wondered in the past and still wonder how many of those people who are waking up at 4:00 am or even camping out to get a "great deal" would be willing to get up at 4:00 am to start cooking at the local soup kitchen for the less fortunate. How many would be willing to show up at church at 4:00 am to participate in an all night prayer vigil for the persecuted church? We are reminded to stay focused on the things that really matter, we are reminded over and over that riches and possessions are not going to save you or make you happy.
"One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Mark 10:21).

"A person’s life does not consist in the possessions that he has" (Luke 12:15).

"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." (Luke 12:33).

"Zacchaeus . . . said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. . . .’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house" (Luke 19:8-9).

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matthew 13:44).

Jesus "saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them" (Luke 21:1).

"But God said to [the man who built even bigger barns], ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21).
As you go about your business this shopping season keep your focus on things above and not on the things this world has to offer. Don't just think about the less fortunate, step up and do something for the less fortunate.Thinking about the homeless will not keep them warm this winter but buying a sleeping bag or blanket will. Thinking about the guy on the street will not take away his hunger pains but buying him a $20 gift card to a local grocery store or restaurant will. I will close with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
“And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"”

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