HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED? Be a Scrooge this year

Russ Whitten
Russ Whitten

I think ol’ Ebenezar Scrooge gets a bad rap. The name Scrooge has become synonymous with greedy, grumpy, cold-hearted, tightfisted and stingy — all those things we don’t want to be. Yet, at the end of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece A Christmas Carol, Scrooge changes his ways, repents and becomes a new man. This wonderful story can remind us that no matter how bad we’ve messed up, we can change, mend our ways and enter into the New Year as a happier person.

Charles Dickens is considered to be one of the greatest English novelists. Throughout his life, he was a champion for the poor. It is also clear that he loved the Bible and was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ. He once wrote to his children that the New Testament is “the best book that ever was or will be known in the world.” He once called Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, “the greatest story ever told.” In 1849, Dickens wrote a manuscript that was so personal to him that he requested that it not be made public for 85 years. Thus, it wasn’t published until 1934 and it was entitled, The Life of Our Lord. According to Dickens, he wrote it so his children would become familiar with the amazing life of Jesus Christ. In his last will and testament, written on May 12, 1869, Dickens wrote, “I commit my soul to the mercy of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and I exhort my dear children humbly to try to guide themselves by the teaching of the New Testament.” Charles Dickens loved the Word of God and you can certainly see this shining through his 1843 classic, A Christmas Carol.

The tale begins on a cold, bleak, foggy Christmas Eve in London, seven years after the death of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s former business partner. That night, Scrooge — whose life illustrates how the word miser is connected with the word miserable —is visited by Marley's ghost who warns him that there are eternal consequences to how you live your life. Marley’s ghost explained to Scrooge why he was fettered: “I wear the chain I forged in life … I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on my own free will and of my own free will I wore it.”

Next, Scrooge was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past which reminded him of some of the selfish mistakes he had made in his life.

Like Scrooge, most of us have ghosts of the past. We all have guilt, shame and regret over bad, sinful decisions we’ve made that can continue to haunt us and cause sorrow in our soul. The good news is that in Christ we can have forgiveness for the sins of our past and we don’t have to live life carrying around the chains of guilt, shame and regret. We can have a new beginning.

Next, Scrooge was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present and he was made aware that what we do (or don’t do) in the present for hurting and needy people has eternal consequences.

Finally, Scrooge was visited by the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come who showed him that his present path will lead to death.

There is nothing that will change our attitude, behavior and actions like the reality of our mortality. When Scrooge saw his own name on the gravestone, he made the glorious decision to repent and change his life.

In the end, Scrooge made three decisions that turned him into a more joyful person. I believe that if we resolve to make these decisions, it will help us to have a truly Happy New Year in 2016.

Scrooge chose to display optimistic joy rather than pessimistic gloom.

The Bible reminds us that Jesus came to bring joy to the world. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Scrooge chose generous giving over greedy selfishness.

Both modern research and Holy Scripture teach us that happy people give generously, serve others, and seek to make others happy.

Ultimately, Scrooge chose the way of life over the way of death.

Deuteronomy 30:16-20 says this: "For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you … This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life …"

Happy New Year and God bless us everyone.

Russ Whitten is minister of Destin Church of Christ. He can be reached at