“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. Daniel 4:37
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. Romans 14:10-13
An American Christmas Carol, starring Henry Winkler as Benedict Slade, the ruthless owner of a savings and loan, came out in 1979. The story takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. A number of lessons could be drawn from it, but I have chosen to give one of the most important: actions have consequences, not just for the one acting, but for any others who are involved.
Slade (the American “Scrooge”) practically owned the town. But he didn’t care about anyone but himself. The Depression was on, and no one had money. When people couldn’t pay their loans on time, the goods were repossessed regardless of the circumstances. He was as cold as the icy weather he drove his truck in to get back his goods! His uncaring attitude left many of the people of the town on the verge of starvation.
He took from the orphanage (where he had spent part of his childhood) the piano that a boy was playing brilliantly. The leader of the orphanage showed up as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
He took the books out of the book store and deprived the owner of his source for making a living. The owner became the Ghost of Christmas Present.
He took from a black couple a stove, and took away their source of heat, this in the middle of a snow storm. The man later was the Ghost of Christmas Future.
It is painfully obvious that Slade worshipped the great god mammon. He was merciless in upholding the terms of the contracts, regardless of any financial problems people might be having. He would have repossessed a doll from a little girl after a flood hit!
In Micah 6:8 (NKJV), we read, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Slade did none of those commands. He did not “do justly.” A just man would have considered that they were in a depression and done everything he could to help people. Instead, he took advantage of them.
He did not “love mercy.” Slade and Scrooge, his British counterpart, were two of the most merciless men you could read about anywhere. Clearly they had no empathy with others.
He did not “walk humbly with (the true) God.” More like King Nebuchadnezzar, he walked “in pride.” (Daniel 4:37).
In the movie, Merrivale, the bookstore owner, as the Ghost of Christmas Present, said to Slade, “Each moment a decision, each decision affecting others; each to be accounted for.” This is the truth. We make decisions all the time. Some are more important and some are less. There are decisions to act or not to act. All must be made by what the situation calls for. We must think about how our decisions affect other people. Will this help others, or hurt them? Is it loving or selfish?
Finally we will give account to God for our decisions. This is the crux of the matter. Think about Romans 14:10-13(NKJV): “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
What we do, whether we like it or not, affects other people. The things we do and don’t do will be judged by our Lord. Let us strive to please Him with our lives, and live to bring others to Him.
Wonderful Counselor, help us Lord to be more like You and to share Your love with others. Maybe it is my sharing a smile in the grocery store, or helping someone unload their groceries, we are Your hands and feet Oh Lord. During this season of Advent, we pray that we can shine Your light for others to see. May Your glorious will be done. Amen.