Want a friendly piece of holiday advice? Avoid stores.

It is amazing to me what happens every year on “Black Friday” – people abuse a wonderful day off by getting up at three in the morning just in the hope of snagging a good deal!

In New York a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by a crowd of bargain hunters-who all wanted to be first into the store. Several others, including a pregnant 28-year old were taken to the hospital with injuries.

How does this sort of thing happen? The people in these crowds aren’t evil folks who woke up bent on doing whatever it took to get the deal at the expense of others. They didn’t plan on hurting anyone-in fact, they didn’t even think about anyone getting hurt.

Therein the answer lies: they didn’t even think. That morning these people woke up very early for a particular goal. They invested time and emotional energy into getting the good deals. When they arrived at the stores, their hopes were dashed by the presence of hundreds of other people competing for the same goal. Disappointment turned to frustration; frustration paired with desire led to a fiercely competitive spirit. When one person inched towards the door, the three surrounding him had to move forward two inches-or their emotional investment would surely bankrupt. It’s the perfect storm of greed, pride, and mob psychology.

Before long this cycle spirals out of control. People no longer act human – they behave like animals in a herd. They don’t consider the feelings of others, the well-being of self, or anything other than moving forward. That’s how a crowd becomes a mob. That’s how God’s created image-bearing-person becomes no more than an animal.

A mob once cried out, “Crucify him!” and “His blood be upon us and on our children.” A mob raided the house of Jason in Acts 17 upset with the teaching of Paul and Silas. A mob dragged Paul out of the temple and tried o kill him (Acts 21).

One thing that should make us different than the world is the way we are to think about the interests of others. We have the perfect example who did just that-even in the face of an angry mob (Phil 2:1-11). My prayer for us is that we never lose sight of our call to look out for the interests of others.