Another Word…by Gus Keiser

November 27, 2017

Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be also.

                                                                                    Matthew 6:21

 So, how did you make out last Friday? Did you “shop ‘til you dropped”?  I always tell myself, especially after a rather “lengthy” experience at Kohl’s several years ago to make a personal purchase on Black Friday, that I will never get caught up in that madness again.  And I must say I’ve been pretty good about sticking to what I said.  So I didn’t think anything about it this past Friday when I set out late morning to do my usual minor grocery shopping venture.  And all went well with the one extra stop I had to make at Home Depot (in and out of there in short order).  My next stop was to purchase cat food at Pet Smart.  I walked in as I usually do, grabbed a small basket and started back the aisle toward the food, when I began to realize that there was this horrendously long line that snaked from four open registers to the back of the store looped around and back up toward the registers again; at which point I decided that the cats would just have to make do with the food they had at home for a day or two.  So from there it was off to Sam’s, Walmart and home (which actually didn’t take me that long).

It was several years ago that I came across an online article about Black Friday shopping that referred to the “splendor” of a shopping mall this way: a pastor was so moved by the retail magnificence around him in the mall that he felt he had to quote Scripture…”Jesus said, I came that you may have life and have that life abundantly.” And just what do you think serves as a proper definition of “abundance”?  What surrounded him?

If that, in fact, is our definition of “abundance”, then we should be greatly troubled. If all that abundance means to us is our easy access to consumer goods and not our relationship to Jesus Christ, then I would propose that we might want to reexamine our priorities for this life.  Does the abundant life mean that Jesus came to earth to merely help us to “shop ‘til we drop”?  I don’t think so.  Why not try telling that to the millions of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who would regard themselves blessed if they are able to eat even one meal today; not to mention the millions in our own country who are simply trying to make ends meet.

Jesus came to give us life to the full, but the abundant life he’s referring to is spiritual in nature. It’s that life where God infuses us with his Holy Spirit, molds us into the image of Christ and overflows to others who observe and can be influenced and blessed.

So, now that we’ve officially entered another “shop ‘til you drop” season while trying to deal with the rush of Christmas; we need to be careful that we don’t confuse material blessings as a form of spiritual status. For we who are followers of Christ, any prosperity we experience should always be seen as a means to an end…not the end in and of itself.  Let’s be careful not to make a mistake here, God expects us to use everything we have for his honor and glory.  It was Jesus who told the people of his day, “Much is required from those to whom much is given.”

 Shopping is an integral part of our Christmas preparation process, and, if done with the right spirit and mindset, can be a fun and rewarding experience. So, as you venture out to do your holiday shopping, why not take a moment to thank God for his many, many blessings.  And while you’re at it, be sure to guard yourself against an attitude that focuses on getting more for yourself, as opposed to using your material blessings to serve and bless others.

Lord, help us to keep our priorities straight, our patience at the ready, our lists manageable, and our hearts ever-focused on you. Amen.

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