This post is being published on Black Friday, so named because Americans do so much shopping that a lot of retailers who have been in the “red” all year suddenly find their way back into the “black” and close out the year having earned a profit.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping for deals, but generally speaking, it’s definitely the day we show off the consumeristic side of our culture.
Usually, people push and shove to grab the “door buster” deals splattered on the front pages of sales papers. And we will, in America at least, spend billions of dollars on the day after we’ve paused to thank God for the important things in life.
We’re all consumers, to one degree or another. We’re trained to crave certain brands and products and we often feel a fear of missing out if we can’t obtain the things we want. Consuming is part of life. It’s unavoidable. The problem is, sometimes consumerism begins to shape our values and decisions far more than our faith does.
So what’s the solution? What’s the antidote to consumerism? It’s generosity.We're all consumers. We're trained to crave and we fear missing out. The problem is, sometimes consumerism defines us more than our faith does. What's the antidote? Generosity! Click To Tweet
The ultra-wealthy King Solomon, who definitely did his fair share of consuming, passed along some ancient wisdom for us today:
Glorify God with all your wealth, honoring him with your very best, with every increase that comes to you. Then every dimension of your life will overflow with blessings from an uncontainable source of inner joy!
– Proverbs 3:9-10 TPT
We’ve already established that all that I own ultimately belongs to God, so I should definitely seek to glorify God by spending and earning ethically and saving wisely so that I can honor him. But he also says to give God the very best of every increase.
My natural, fleshly instinct when I earn money is to ask, how can I spend this? And if I’m wise I’ll even ask, how can I save some of this? But Solomon, along with Jesus, Paul, and other biblical writers, would challenge us to start with a different question:
How can I give the first and best of what I’ve earned back to God?
I don’t believe that we, as New Testament Christians, are obligated to keep all of the Old Covenant laws concerning tithing. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. In fact, using the tithe as our guide, we recognize that under grace, we’re free to give more than a tenth of our income as God provides.
Tithing, as a principle, is a starting point. If I can give at least ten percent of my income away, save at least ten percent for the future, and pay my taxes and my bills, then I know I’m free to practice generosity without worrying about the future.
One of our church’s core values states, We grow from consumers into contributors… and I think that’s the key. It’s not about never being a consumer again. It’s about being a consumer second and being a contributor first.
It’s natural to earn and then 1.) spend, 2.) save, and if something is left over, 3.) give. My challenge to you is to reverse that. 1.) Give the first and best tenth, then 2.) save and set aside and then, 3.) spend what you need to spend for today.
If you’re behind, strapped, and overextended, it’s going to likely take some time to get rightside up again. Take it one step at a time, but do take a step. Do the hard work now and you’ll enjoy much greater freedom in your future. But start with the heart. When your heart is right, your hands will follow.