“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” - 1 Cor. 10:31
If everything is to be done for God’s glory, shopping must also be done to that end. But there often comes a mental or spiritual disconnect when I walk into a store and I shop for reasons other than this one noble, righteous purpose.
How do I shop for God's glory?
Here's what I came up with - for myself and for all who might read it and perhaps be helped:
1) Sometimes I shop for the sake of my appearance before others. My underlying ambition is the praise and approval of man. Is this an ‘in’ thing to have? Will others think I have good taste? Will I impress, or will I be thought ‘un-cool’ for possessing this item? These are not the questions of a faith-filled heart, but of a worldly heart. As Jesus said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44)
2) Sometimes I shop because I actually think that the stuff I’m buying will make me happy. That’s idolatry and idolatry is a sin. It shows disbelief of the word of God: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:2) Those who thirst for joy and satisfaction are to go to Christ who said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)
3) Sometimes I shop with an eye to saving. How can I get the most for my money? This can be a good motive, and again it could be a bad one. Money is rarely an end in itself, so I must ask: “Why do I want to save money?” Is it to buy more things to make me happy, or more things to make me cool? (see 1. and 2.) Or is it for a better reason? (which I shall explore shortly.)
The question remains then, “How do I shop for the glory of God?” As wrong motives have different aspects, so also does the God-ward motive:
1) Shopping for the glory of God means that I shop to make Him look good. That is, I will buy things that will best help me, or others I buy for, to live to God’s glory. This might mean that I won’t buy the hottest stuff - and then again it might mean that I do - that’s not the issue. The issue is not my coolness, but what will bring God most glory.
It will mean that I won’t buy that very chic, but very skimpy outfit, because no matter how fashionable it might make me, that outfit will not equip me to live for God’s glory. It might mean buying less of the cool junk food that everyone else is eating so I can get food that will give me strength to serve God.
It will mean that I buy more of what is useful than what is showy.
It will mean many other things which I’ll discover as I apply this mentality to every aspect of my shopping.
2) Shopping for the glory of God means that I won’t want all the stuff that the people of the world run after, because I am satisfied in God. It means I won’t believe the advertisements and displays that promise me happiness in the possession of their product, because I know that “the world and its desires pass away”.
It will sometimes mean that I buy less, because my desire is not to have things tomake me happy, but to be satisfied in God who meets all my needs. It will mean telling myself that I don’t “have to have” that adorable pair of shoes that I don’t need and had no intention of buying until I saw them and coveted them. It will mean buying with calm judiciousness and not whimsical lust.
3) Shopping for the glory of God does mean shopping with an eye to saving money. But not saving so I can have more cash to make me feel secure, and buy more stuff to make me happy. The question on my mind will be: “How can I save money on buying less of what I want, but don’t need, so that I can buy what I do need to live for God’s glory?” (see pt. 1.) And as a member of Christ’s kingdom, I should even more be asking: “How much can I save that I may have more to give to the needy and to God’s people and the advancement of God’s kingdom?”