Thursday, November 21, 2019

Evolving Lincoln

     The natural process for all living things is to grow.  Growth and change are normal parts of life.  The goal of a Christian is to grow, change, and mature.  We are called to mature and become more like our Master, Jesus Christ.  The Bible describes this process in many passages, "Be not conformed to the image of this world, but be ye transformed, by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2   "Follow the Truth at all times...and so become more and more like Christ, who is the Head of His body, the Church."  Ephesians 4:15 
"Therefore, leaving behind the elementary teachings of Christ let us press on to maturity."  Hebrews 6:1

We see that process of growth and change in the political life of Abraham Lincoln, also.  Lincoln's position on the issue of slavery evolved over a long period of time. Early in his political life he opposed slavery on moral grounds, but did not believe the Federal government should force the Southern States to end it. 

When the Rebel states seceded from the Union, Lincoln did not require them to abolish slavery as a condition for returning.  For President Lincoln, keeping the Union together took precedent over ending slavery.  Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the rebelling states, not the states that had not entered the Confederacy. Later, he even proposed a preposterous plan that would ship the freed slaves off to live in colonies outside of the United States.  Finally, after much debate and soul searching, President Lincoln, the bold leader we admire today, stood up and made the hard, costly, but right decision.  Slavery must end, everywhere, now and forever.  Lincoln's final word to the South was this. "You must give up your immoral culture of slavery, and if not willingly, it will be by force of arms decided for you."
Abraham Lincoln's political platform was far different at the end of the conflict, than it had been at the beginning of the Civil War.  Thank God he evolved into the kind of leader that the Country needed.  David said it best like this, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10   Lincoln developed into the type of leader who was not afraid, prideful, or just too stubborn to make the hard choices, even if it meant admitting he had been wrong.

All of us will face those types of moral decisions.  As Christians we should strive to continue to grow and mature.  Hopefully, we can learn to humble ourselves, even as the Spirit of God deals with our hearts.
Lincoln changed.  What he thought was wise policy early in his career, he found to be unacceptable later on.  Lincoln evolved, he matured.  Paul gets to the same point with this verse of Scripture, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11  Are you willing to change?

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