Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
We're just a couple a weeks away from Black Friday. I got my first circular promoting "Black Friday" deals on Nov. 2nd this year. It's just unavoidable. Who cares about Thanksgiving? Black Friday is where it's at!
I find it very funny and little bit sad that the term “Black Friday,” which was coined in the same fashion as dark days in American and World History, has been accepted as almost a holiday unto itself.
For reference, the term “Black Friday” has been used many times in history to describe a day where bad things happened, such as a huge outbreak of devastating tornadoes in the United States and Canada in 1985, a San Francisco protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1960, and even the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
And when I was a kid, “Black Friday” was used to mark the severity of the sale events on the day after Thanksgiving, where grannies were trampled to death, fights erupted over the sole remaining Furby, and the worst of our inner greed and ruthlessness was let out of its cage to save a few bucks on Christmas gifts.
Now, it’s simply the name of a pseudo-holiday. The biggest shopping day of the year. Instead of “Day-After-Thanksgiving Sales,” stores now boldly proclaim “Black Friday Sales”! And everyone drools.
Seems all it took to change “Black Friday” from a negative phrase to a positive one was simply time.
We just had to wait for it to change.
And we prove we’re good at waiting every year on that day. People line up hours, even days, before the doors open on Black Friday to be sure they are the first to save $100 on a TV or grab one of the new video game consoles before they sell out.
Then, we take our gifts home and wrap them and wait an entire month to give them to someone. And of course, we wait as well for gifts to be given to us. But is that really waiting? Or is it that patience?
There is a big difference between “waiting” and “having patience,” especially when it comes to our faith.
When I first accepted Christ as my Savior and found salvation, I waited for my life to change. I waited for things to get better. I waited for my bad habits to disappear. I waited for some newfound strength inside me to just burst forth and change my life.
I passively waited as none of those things happened. In fact, my waiting brought about the opposite. I was falling back into old habits, things were getting worse, I didn’t have any renewed strength to fight temptation, and I wasn’t becoming the Christian I wanted to be.
That’s because waiting and doing nothing brings no growth.
The Bible told us that in the Parable of the Talents. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells us a story of a rich man who trusted his servants with talents (money). To one he gave 5 talents, to one he gave 2, and to one he gave 1. He expected them to be trustworthy with this little bit and be wise with it, bringing back a profit.
The one with 5 went and traded with them and eventually made an extra 5 talents for his master. The one with 2 did the same and also doubled his talents. But the third servant was afraid, and instead buried his talent until it was time to return it to the master. He brought back exactly what was given to him.
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! … You ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. Matthew 24:26-27 ESV
The servant was given something and he was not faithful with it. He just waited for the whole event to be over and then handed back no growth.
In the end, the master, knowing he could trust the first two servants, entrusted them with much more of his estate. Meanwhile, the one he could not trust was fired.
You see, simply waiting not only brings no growth, but it brings with it digression. Like with “Black Friday,” where instead of trying to change the way we so ruthlessly handle ourselves on the day after Thanksgiving, we instead waited for it to become the norm, and now it is. I’m not saying the whole thing is wrong or bad, but it sure does tend to bring out the worst in us.
What’s that thing Edward Burke said? “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
You see, what we need is patience, or what I like to call “active patience.” We continue to purposefully strive to be better, to trust God, to fight temptation, to do what we know to be right, even if the positive results don’t seem to be coming in as quickly as we’d like.
Think again about waiting in line on Black Friday. Have you ever done it? What was your attitude at the time? How were others acting? Was there a spirit of brotherly love? Of peace?
People can wait for a long time and be impatient the whole way through. Even the first person in line is banging on the door when there’s still ten minutes until the store opens. Just because you are waiting, doesn’t mean you have patience, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re doing the right thing.
God wants us to know how it feels to be patient by TRUSTING HIM to provide for you. God never said the Christian life was going to be an easier life, but he has said that if we are faithful with a little, he will trust us with more.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV
Honestly, life for the new believer might not ever get much better, but handling it will become easier, because we have a new hope and strength in Christ. We have to actively pursue righteousness, to continue to live the changes we want in our lives, to choose God’s will over our own, to serve others, even at our own expense, and to pray without ceasing.
And, if we are patient and don’t give up, we will come to reap the blessings. We come to see how much we have to be thankful for, and then we will be trusted with even more.
Consider it a Christmas gift with your name on it, placed under the tree on Black Friday. The blessing is there, but you just need to be patient before you can open it.
And it’s going to be so much better than a PS4.
Matt Coker is the Ministry Director of The Back Row. He is married to a beautiful woman he met when they were both in youth group and they have one mischievous son together. Matt collects Funko Pop figures, loves time travel movies, and enjoys exotic jerky meats. You can contact Matt via the contact page or on Twitter at @BackRowOnline.