As Christmas passes for another year, I reflect on some of the long time, and well-loved Christmas movies.

Marley was dead – the first line of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens – is probably the most famous opening of a classic Christmas story.

I watched Scrooge this year. I dove into the 1950 classic with Alister Sims.  It was devoid of a director’s version or enhancements that attract a diverse audience.

Bare bones Scrooge in black and white.

Jacob Marley is a fictional character in Charles Dickens’s 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. A former business partner of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge and now a ghost wanting to deliver a warning to Scrooge.

As you view Scrooge in opening scenes you recognize he is lacking empathy for mankind and Christmas is a mere annoyance interfering with business.

Obviously, this man is deep in a hole of darkness.

As the story progresses, Marley appears, a ghost representing the exact life Scrooge is living.

Marley’s chains represent all the greed and misguided priorities in his life. Steel links of cash-boxes, ledgers, deeds and bags of money.  These were things that Marley spent his life worshiping.

He is a tormented ghost seeing the errors of his ways. Now that it is too late for him, he carries the concerns and guilt for Scrooge.

These chains are the punishment he earned for a greedy, selfish and uncaring attitude when he was living.

“I wear the chain I forged in life…I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on by my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

– Marley

Each link of the chain came one by one until now it was so long, he could barely move.

How does this happen?

How did he get so misguided and detached from the needs of humanity?

Why did Marley not feel the weight of each link when he was alive?  One by one added at each twist and turn of his life.


Beware of a chain you could be forging.  Not necessarily going in the direction of Marley and Scrooge but a chain that can keep you from a life of freedom.

Chains can be debilitating in life and death.  A life not lived fully is a life of regret.

Each link is not necessarily noticed until it is affecting your progression in life.

These links can be,

  • debt,
  • anger,
  • excess weight,
  • physical disability,
  • fear,
  • anxiety,
  • unrealistic expectations,
  • jealousy,
  • bad relationships

The list goes on and on.

All these negative facets of your life can affect you and those you associate with eventually.

Example 1

Take for example debt, sometimes referred to as crippling debt.

Debt affects your life financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It can cause anxiety, depression, and mental illness. It can cause a host of physical health problems. This chain becomes so heavy drug and alcohol abuse as well as heart attacks and suicide can be an end result.

Your freedom is gone.

Your dreams to be and do what you want, gone.

Example 2

Another link to a chain is excess weight.  On the surface it’s a personal choice but the end result can be health issues and depression.

Living the life you want, gone.

Your body cannot keep up the activities you once loved.  Even walking becomes a chore.

Bah Humbug, who wants a life of mediocrity.

No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities missed.

These links can end up being a heavy chain in life where you end up in a limiting box, until the box you are in has a lid that closes for good.


What all humans thrive on is freedom.

A life free to choose and explore life and its opportunities.

That’s where the magic happens

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

– Galatians 5:1

Forging this chain is really self sabotage when you think about it.

Most things you have control over.

Jacob Marley symbolizes the limitations of a life-lived focused on greed and selfishness.

How different would his life have been if he focused on perpetual joy, kindness and unselfish interactions with others.

“Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down and never raise them to see that blessed star which led the wisemen to a poor abode!  Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me.”

– Marley

Now Jacob Marley has been condemned to wander the world as a miserable ghost.

Let Jacob Marley be a voice of warning to all of us.  This life can be very miserable because of missed opportunities.

Our spirits know who we are supposed to be, and bondage to a limited life is not it.

You would hope that maybe what the good Marley did in helping Scrooge change, helped his eternal damnation.

We will never know.

If only he had found this compassion for mankind when he was alive.

Scrooge, “Ghost of the Future,” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear your company, and do it with a thankful heart.”

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