Stave Four, Day Three

Three people gather at what might loosely be called a pawn shop. It soon becomes apparent that they all have helped themselves to a few items that belonged to a dead man. Some general defensiveness appears as they recognize one another and what each has done, but this soon disappears when one of them begins the justification process, “Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did.”

Beginning with personal rights might lead someone to think the dead man should have had some, but they blame him again, “If he wanted to keep ‘em after he was dead…, why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself.”

It’s his fault, in other words, that he had no one there to guard his stuff. I realize, of course, that I’m veering from the Phantom’s intent. He wants Scrooge to see that our actions in life can affect how others treat us in death. But we dealt with that in the last post. Scrooge may need more lessons, but I don’t want to pass over what jumps out at me: how often do I blame others for my poor behavior?

This dead man’s behavior can’t justify stealing the shirt off his back—literally. And we must be careful of the horrid theology of the woman. I realize, of course, that for the most part, the people of America would agree with her. It’s written into the Declaration of Independence that God gave us certain rights, so it must be true. I’m still looking for the verse references, though. 

Actually, what the Bible seems to teach is that we have an obligation to take care of others, not a right to take care of ourselves. It’s the model of Jesus, the one who “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant…” (Philippians 2:6–7).

We should not excuse Scrooge’s lack of compassion and failure to seek justice, but that doesn’t excuse these three from looking out for themselves. Nor does someone else’s behavior excuse our selfishness. So I ask myself the question again, and I hope you will join me: how often do I blame others for my self seeking behavior?

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