READY SET SHOP

The day after Thanksgiving —also known as Black Friday— marks the official start to another Christmas shopping season. Many a valiant soul will venture out to local malls, fighting the crowds to find good deals as they work through their Christmas shopping lists. In fact this year many retailers have jumped the gun and are advertising their Black Friday is already in progress. There is a lot of competition for the money in our pockets.

Some time ago, I read a newspaper article that referred to the opening of a new mall with this statement: “… a pastor was so moved by the retail magnificence around, that he quoted Scripture, ‘Jesus said, I came that you may have life and have that life abundantly… and what do you suppose abundance means? All of this, of course!’” 

That’s a troubling notion that somehow our material prosperity is directly related to our relationship with Jesus. Does the abundant life really mean that Jesus came to help us shop ‘til we drop? I don’t think so! Try telling that to the millions of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who will regard themselves blessed if they are able to eat a meal today.
 
Jesus did come to give us life to the full, but the abundant life He was referring to is spiritual in nature.   It’s a life where God infuses us with His Spirit, molds us into the image of Christ and overflows to others who observe and can be influenced and blessed. (notice Matthew 5:16, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15; 9:12)

Yes, many of us are blessed in material ways. Yet, we ought not to confuse material blessing as a spiritual status symbol. For the Christ-follower, material blessings should always be seen as a means to an end—not the end in and of itself. Make no mistake, God expects us to use everything we have for His honor and His glory.  Jesus said, “Much is required from those to whom much is given…” (Luke 12:48)
 
As you venture out to do your Christmas shopping this season, take a moment to thank God for your material blessings. “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be also”—Matthew 6:21 (NLT). While you are at it, be sure to guard yourself against a materialistic attitude that focuses on getting more for yourself, as opposed to using your material blessings to serve and bless others.

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