Black Friday is Nov. 27, and the Boston Globe reports that Americans will spend $13 billion on that one day alone. This was preceded by families spending time apart on the Thanksgiving holiday to camp out in lines to get the best sales. There will be stampedes, break-ins, thefts, fights and more curse words than many Christians hear the other 364 days of the year before it is done.
The vast majority of the shopping is done for Christmas presents, done ostensibly in the name of Jesus Christ. It makes the money-changers incident of Matthew 21:12-13 seem tame by some comparisons.
If there was ever anyone that advocated spending resources (time, money, prayer) to good causes over materialism, it was Christ. The U.S. economy pretty much requires money be spent to keep it vital, but there is a less materialistic option right around the corner.
Giving Tuesday is a new effort to spend money on community-building charities just four days after Black Friday. It offers people a chance to support those efforts that enrich society, and is very much in keeping with Christ’s teachings.
This new campaign has definitely had results. According to USA Today reports of the 2013 Giving Tuesday numbers, giving was up 90 percent while Black Friday purchases were down three percent.
It is important to note that the strength of a charity is the breadth of its base. The more donors, members or subscribers they have, the more grant money they get. Corporations and even public programs know that a $2 million charity dependent on a few heavy supporters is less stable than one that relies on many smaller ones because one bad year for a major donor makes a difference while the up-and-down finances of many donors will even out.
Thus, the best thing is not to give enough to “make a difference” to one charity but give many smaller donations to many charities. It is the sum of effort from everyone that makes anything work, not one person’s action. God programmed us to be corporate, not in terms of how much we spend but in the original meaning of the word referring to working as part of the body (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Of course, there are people that cannot or will not spend any money this holiday season beyond their needs. For them, donating time to their preferred charity can help ensure there is enough staffing to take in and make the most of the extra money donated.
The best evangelism for Christianity is to exhibit the fruits of the spirit by giving generously when we celebrate our Lord’s birth, if not all year. Staying away from the Black Friday mob may even make it easier to focus on God.