We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3:14)
If there is a greater personal transformation in fiction than that of Ebenezer Scrooge, it doesn’t readily come to mind. For over 150 years, Charles Dickens’ miserly protagonist has served as a metaphor for stinginess and greed, but his story is really one of stunning conviction and response—a realization of wrong, a plea for mercy, an inner renewal, and a newly-found compassion for others. His testimony is the passing from the doom of death to a life of love, for in the end, he was a new man, changed from the inside out.
For whatever reason, we continue to identify the old money-lender with his former “Humbug” disposition, as though tethering him with Marley’s chains to his former, self-absorbed way of life. Maybe part of us finds comfort in comparing ourselves against such a low benchmark, as though our goodness lay in being better than someone else. But in so doing, we miss the point, we miss the good news. Our hope is not found in being so different than this Scrooge or that one; quite the opposite, our hope lives in the fact that we can be like him! We, too, can live in mercy and grace! We, too, can pass from death to life! We, too, can become new! For when we live in Christ, we, too, are changed.
What does true transformation of our inside look like on the outside? The grace we receive shines through the grace we give. We take in the words of the apostle John: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Then we live them as did our good friend, Ebenezer: “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more . . . And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”1
May it likewise be known through our words of truth and our acts of love that we, too, live well in Christ.
Father, send your Spirit to shine through me today. May you be glorified—and may others be blessed—because you used this life for your purposes. I pray in the name of the Son you love, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Read John’s call to genuine love in 1 John 3:11-20.
1 Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Enriched Classic (New York: Pocket Books, 2007), 104.