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Black Friday

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  (1 Timothy 6:6-7, NIV)

In this week’s blog I’m pleased to bring you a window into 2025.  “Incredible Black Friday deals on new iPhone 16!  Built-in video projector with surround sound, AI decision assist to help you make difficult choices, submersible to 1km, 1TB data, only 4mm thick, 3 week battery life, iFlop feature means it bends to the shape of your pocket…”  All yours for £xxx/month, and, of course, it will make the phone you bought in 2020 look absurdly out of date!

It’s Black Friday again - an annual shopping binge which began in the USA as retailers spotted the opportunities afforded by a post-Thanksgiving holiday only four weeks before Christmas.

Doubtless there are some good deals out there, but what dangers they come with!  We are tempted to spend money we don’t have; life becomes more complex; we are unable to give as we could or should; and above all, the cancer of covetousness in our hearts is given energy food.  We find ourselves surfing retail sites as a form of therapy, and discover deficiencies in our present lives that we never knew we had.  We are eaten up by covetousness’ immediate penalty - discontent.

How d’you think I know this?  I would be a liar of the worst kind if I didn’t speak from sad experience.  And for the record, I do have an iPhone, though nothing like the above!

How refreshing it is, then, to read the Apostle Paul’s marvellous words, quoted above.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  What freedom would come from not constantly wanting more!

The sobering truth, Paul goes on to say, is that we can take nothing out of the world.  What accumulations of stuff will our relatives find when they clear our houses after we die?  What story will these tell about where our priorities lay?

I wonder if a previous generation of Christians have something to teach us, something we have forgotten?  “Live simply, that others may simply live”, my Father-in-law would say.

Paul’s positive alternative vision comes with the knowing Jesus, and with the help of His Spirit trying to say “No” to covetousness.  A life that is marked out by the recognition that, as Jesus said, it really is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). There is real, felt joy in that way of living.

Contentment in a world that is so discontent - well, what a prize that would be, and what a story we would have to tell!  Shall we pray for that, today?

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Alasdair Paine, 27/11/2020