My favorite Christmas story is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is the famous story of a stingy man with a shrunken heart.
As the book opens, a painful picture of Ebenezer Scrooge that emerges. He is mean and miserly, stingy to the core and hated by all. Threatening and menacing, he even complains about giving his one employee a break on Christmas Day.
And then . . .
He goes home. On that fateful Christmas Eve, he is visited by three spirits—the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Through these visits, we see a man in great pain who tried to use money to heal his wounds. Over time, the blessing became his god, and his god exacted a high price. He lost love, friends, and family. Scrooge is the classic picture of a hurting person who hurts people. Thus, he is alone and hated, destined to die the way he lived.
Scrooge is a man who refused to use his blessing to extend blessing, and as a result the blessing backfired. He had a shrunken, unhappy heart, and during this fateful night, he understood how much he had wasted.
And then . . . he woke up.
Instantly, Scrooge saw he had a second chance, and he took advantage of that second chance to give back what he had received in order to make life better for others. His shrunken heart expanded such that love and joy filled the formerly painful and barren rooms.
The story ends and we smile as a picture of redemption emerges. However, I wonder, have we learned the lesson?
We are blessed to be a blessing. If we forsake this call, our blessings turn on us and make us into a joyless, stingy person. God created us to share His joy as we rightly use His gifts.
I hope it doesn’t take a three-ghost nightmare to spare us this pain.