Christmastime. ‘Tis the time of seasonal insults. Two of the most common are to call someone, who doesn’t celebrate Christmas the way we think they ought to, one of the following:
We’ve probably all called someone one of these names before, and a some of us have probably been called these names before. (It is entirely possible that one of those words was directed at me just last week.) But as I have thought about it, it occurred to me what the response should be when someone calls me a Scrooge, or a Grinch.
“Did you just call me a Scrooge?”
“Thank you! That is so sweet!”
Why? Because being called a Scrooge or a Grinch should really be one of the greatest compliments we could ever receive. In fact, if I I died and had my exit interview with Jesus, and he said, “You remind me of this silly fictional story about a guy named the Grinch..” I would breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Anyone who calls someone a Grinch or a Scrooge in a negative way really doesn’t grasp the stories.
Why? Because the characters of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch both represent the attainment of that one thing that we should all desire: A change of heart.
They were both cantankerous, faithless, unhappy characters, who despised their fellow men. They both went through a mighty change of heart, and found joy and redemption.
Remember, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day…
A mighty change of heart? Oh yeah, suddenly it gets scriptural.
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances?
Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)
And they both ended up happy:
Yet somehow, both of these characters names have become idioms for just the opposite. The are always used negatively. It is like we completely ignore the miraculous transitions they made, and instead, focus on what they were before. We consign them to being the lesser version of themselves forever.
I can’t help but think that we do that with real people sometimes. We forget that everyone has a chance, and a need for a new heart. Occasionally, when someone is given that new heart, as happened to Saul when “God gave him another heart” (1 Sam. 10:9) we refuse to acknowledge the transformation that has been made. Sometimes it is easier to keep someone in a well-defined box, rather than admit that they have broken free, and become a better version of themselves. Instead, we’ll just remember them in their pre-repentant state.
Both Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch had successful transformation that each one of us must experience at some time in our lives. Not only do we need to experience it, we need to retain it.
“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26)
Both characters got it right. I think I’m going to quit using those two names as a Christmastime insult – because both stories are about characters who found new hearts, and redemption. I want to be more like them.
If you want to call me a Grinch, feel free. And thank you.
Ever wonder about the name Ebenezer? It isn’t very common, and I assure you that Dickens did not choose that name by accident. You have probably noticed it in the song “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing.”
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
What does it mean to “raise my Ebenezer? You might not know that the word Ebenezer is biblical. Here is a quote from a speech at BYU by Curt Holman that explains it better than I could:
It is in the Old Testament that we gain further understanding of what it means to “raise my Ebenezer.” In 1 Samuel 7 we read that the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. Outnumbered and in fear for their lives, they pled with the prophet Samuel to pray for God’s help. Samuel offered a sacrifice and prayed for protection. In response the Lord smote the Philistines, and they retreated to their territory. This victory is recorded in verse 12: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
In Hebrew the word ebenezer means “stone of help.” This raised stone was a reminder to the Israelites of what the Lord had done for them. This Eben-ezer quite literally was a monument set to remember the great help that God granted the one raising the stone. The Old Testament is replete with examples of the children of Israel forgetting the many miracles and spiritual experiences given to them by the Lord. (Link)
In that context, Ebenezer Scrooge -in name and deed – could stand as a monument to remind us of the importance of attaining that mighty change of heart, and the miracles and experiences that have been given us of the Lord.
Gotta love Christmas.
And Merry Christmas to all of you!