I went out Friday to do a little shopping. I was going to one store to look for a particular item that we wanted to give to our Son-in-Law for Christmas. I was just going to “scoot” over to the selected store, pick up the article, pay for it and make my way quickly back home. Mistake! Mistake! Mistake!
I knew when I drove onto Riverwatch Parkway that this was not going to be the quick easy trip that I had planned. Unless you have some of the skills of a NASCAR driver, you didn’t need to be in that mob of cars which were obviously piloted by people who had no sense at all. My soul! It was a rat race! I asked myself; “where in the world are all these cars coming from and where are they going?” It was brutal for one who tries to drive safely and courteously. But, I was on a mission and was not going to be deterred by people who obviously failed the driving test multiple times.
The store parking lot was worse! It was full and people were driving around the lot looking for the next person who was leaving. They had a look of determination on their faces which said: “Don’t you dare try to beat me to that parking place.” And as usual, a person would get in their car and proceed to do something that lasted forever! They put their foot on the brake and led one to believe that their leaving was imminent. Not so. They proceed to make a phone call or put on makeup, or bring their checkbook up to date or SOMETHING! Traffic stacking up in the lane waiting on them to leave did not seem to factor into the situation at all. What started as a quick trip was quickly turning into a frustrating, aggravating chore. I’m so thankful that the Lord made me such a loving, kind, patient, and forgiving person. Yeah, sure! It tested my Christianity greatly.
Out of curiosity, I decided to find out where this Black Friday came from. Its a long story but it is not given its name because retailers are speaking of the huge profits they will make on that one day but it comes from the way Black Friday got its name. In short, it began to be called Black Friday many years ago because the police in Philadelphia had such a time in controlling the shoppers on that particular day on the calendar. Its sort of an involved history but it became generally known as Black Friday in 1961. It marks the day when millions of people flood the stores seeking to spend money they don’t have to buy something not really needed by a person that they don’t see much but feel obligated to buy for.
So, there is Black Friday. A totally secular day motivated by profit and social pressure. Then there is another Friday. GOOD Friday. It is the day upon which the ultimate gift was offered for us in order to give us the greatest gift of all….eternal life. The most expensive gift in all of eternity and time was given when God placed His Son upon the cross to die for all humanity. There is no more expensive gift ever given to anyone. Nothing can match its value or permanency. This gift brings all the things that people are really looking for in life. It brings love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness and self-control along with assurance and a guarantee of a heavenly home forever. Now, THAT’S a totally valuable gift and it doesn’t cost a thing. Its free!
There’s something about a gift that is unusual. One has to receive it in order for it to be possessed by them. The same is true for God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ. The gift is presented to everyone but only those who receive it can benefit from it. To receive God’s ultimate gift all one has to do is to believe God, take him at his word by faith, and the free gift of eternal life is granted. It is a great tragedy when one refuses God’s gift and walks away. It is given for all but not received by all. God wants to give it to anyone and everyone.
Most people don’t know why the tradition of gift giving got started. It refers to the gifts that the Three Wise Men brought to the Baby Jesus at His birth. It also refers to the Gift of eternal life that God gives us when we commit our lives to His Son Jesus. So, when you give a gift this Christmas, remember that the tradition of giving gifts goes all the way back to the greatest gift ever given; God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
So there we have two Fridays. Black Friday and Good Friday. One is for the world, the other is for eternal life in the presence of God. Many people go “crazy” over Black Friday and pay little attention to the most valuable Friday of all: Good Friday. Reflect on this as you celebrate Christmas, the day of the Lord’s birth among men on earth.
Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com