Faith Moment
May 2, 2016
He Belongs to the Ages

You have heard that it was said,  ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

As a young, struggling attorney, Abraham Lincoln felt honored to be employed on an important case. The other attorneys chosen to represent the case were well known for their legal and persuasive expertise. However, one attorney, upon seeing Lincoln, remarked, “What is that gawky ape doing here? I refuse to work with him. Get rid of him.” Lincoln remained calm and pretended not to hear the deliberate insult.

As the trial proceeded, Lincoln was ostracized by the other lawyers. In fact, he was never recognized as one of the representing attorneys. He listened carefully to the court proceedings and observed his insulter’s masterful handling of the case. He won the case hands-down. The next day, Lincoln was quoted as saying, “His brilliant argument was a revelation to me. He was expertly prepared, fluent in his presentation, and undoubtedly the most professional questioning I have ever witnessed. I can’t hold a candle to his abilities. I am going home to study law all over again.”

Years later, Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States. That same attorney who had rudely insulted Lincoln became his most outspoken critic. However, Lincoln never forgot the brilliance of this man. When an appointment was needed for secretary of war, Lincoln chose Edwin M. Stanton, the very man who had wounded and insulted him. Lincoln proved his character by offering a forgiving spirit rather than a lifetime grudge.

Shortly thereafter, an assassin’s bullet pierced Lincoln’s body. Stanton, filled with sorrow and inconsolable grief, sobbed, “Now he belongs to the ages!”

Lincoln’s ability to forgive those who wounded him and, further, to see value in them, was truly admirable. This ability exemplified Christ’s admonition to forgive and to even love those who harm us.

Too often, I see only evil in those who harm me. But no one is totally evil. Good exists in everyone. It takes “heavenly eyesight” to see it, but it is there.

I pray that I, like Lincoln, will be able to see the good in those who harm me. May God produce in me, the ability to truly love my enemies.

With love

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