Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Enemy, My Brother

    I believe it is worth noting how many of Abraham Lincoln's quotes reflect the influence the Word Of God had on his thinking, and how it would ultimately shape his leadership.  He once counseled, "If you look for the bad in people, expecting to find it, you surely will."  That is a truth that transcends every generation.  It speaks more to the attitude of the person doing the judging than to the person being judged.  Jesus said it first like this, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye...you hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matt. 7:3-5.  What Jesus was saying, and what Lincoln was repeating, was this fact.  We all have flaws.  If we look hard enough, we will surely maximize their shortcomings and minimize our own.
     Lincoln decided early in his dealing with the South not to view them as just traitorous rebels, but as a people who would again one day be fruitful members of the United States.  He knew there were good qualities in the citizenry of the South.  He believed those qualities would blossom when freed from the system of slavery. Lincoln chose to look with eyes of mercy and see the positive.  That attitude is seen in this Lincoln quote, " I don't like that man.  I must get to know him better."
     The Word of God gives us a practical first step to guard against a harsh judgmental heart.  How can we see clearly to help our brother with the speck mentioned in Matthew 7:5?  Jesus gives us the guidance we need at the beginning of the chapter, "For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." Matt. 7:2.  What then is to be our standard of measure? Showing mercy is to be our standard.  It is impossible to justly deal with the flaws of our brethren with an eye that lacks mercy.
    I have often pondered on how I would desire for God to look upon me and my many sins.  My hope would be that He would look on me with mercy.  If that is what I would desire, and I am sure all of us desire the same thing, then God has already
spoken His last word on the matter. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." Matt. 5:7


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