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!
Brad thank you for your message.
This evening I was watching one of my favorite musical on TV, The Sound of Music. As the opening credits were playing my daughter and I were quickly reminiscing as to each of our favorite songs from the movie. As story begins to unfold with the introduction of Maria being late to the abbey, I asked her to watch this opening scene and song, as it reminded me of someone in our family. The Mother Superior and other nuns are discussing all the things Maria has done or is doing wrong. But one nun askes to plead the case on behalf of Maria and recites some of her wonderful attributes. I also love the words of the song (Maria), words of both angst and hope for Maria. I love the gentleness and patience implied. You see those are the feeling I have for this sweet daughter who has struggled and overcome many hard personal things, with the scars that go along with them. It’s so easy to not give someone a chance, to dash their sense of worth and hope. Especially when it seems they stumble more often than you want them to or struggle more than you expect them to. We can easily do this to ourselves as well.
The scene in the movie wraps up with Maria rushing into the abbey courtyard, a ball of energy. She quickly goes to the water fountain, briefly washes her face, takes a few hurried steps and finally notices the group of Nun’s with a brief pause, a shrug of her shoulders, a roll of her eyes in an expression of exasperation and then continues on her way, oblivious to the moment. My daughter caught that’s the part I was thinking of when I said this reminded me of someone in our family. That is my daughter….
I am so grateful that our Savior who sees or hearts and the worth of our souls instead of what we have fail at or struggle with. An Advocate who has the patience and love to see us as who we can become. I work each day to see my brothers and sisters in the same way our Savior see each of us. I’m a work in progress…thankfully.
For the last several years, I have enjoyed reading the book Jacob T. Marley, by R. William Bennett. It is a novel based on the concept of who Jacob T Marley was. The “pre-title” of the book says “Before Ebenezer Scrooge, there was…” Loved the backstory it creates of Marley and how he met, mentored, and shaped Scrooge, and how, after his death, he had such a strong longing to help Scrooge overcome the man he was to avoid Marley’s post death condemnations.
Thanks for the perspective on Scrooge and also on the Grinch. Truly the endings we hope to have.
What a great comparison. …and I love the Ebenezer information.
I had read that article and couldn’t remember where is was from.
You have given me the info, so that I can go and read the whole article again.
My youngest son, Chad, died almost a year and a half ago [at 38] & he had read Paul & really knew his writings. He had decided to strengthen his testimony and definitely had one again. I always told him that he needed to define himself as a son of Heavenly Father. He had struggled for over 25 year with addictions, but I am glad that everyone remembers what a “good heart” he had and defines him by that & not his earthly challenges. I pray every day that he is growing to become the man that Our Savior and Our Heavenly Father would have him be!
Happy Christmas and God bless us everyone.
Well said. Good take on changing the negative to positive.
Fabulous, as usual. I hopes someone calls me “Scrooge” soon. Merry Christmas!🎄🎄🎄
Thank you for your insights, we were just having this same discussion in our family this week. May we all have and keep this mighty change of heart!
Thanks very much for this post!!! I never could understand why people use the term Scrooge in a negative way since he ended doing so much good. Thus, I am very glad someone else sees it my way Jo