Returning Good for Evil: How Lincoln Destroyed Enemies
Key Bible Verse: Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19: 18
Bonus Reading: 1 Samuel 25: 18-42
At his inauguration in 1861, Abraham Lincoln said passionately, “We must not be enemies.” For many, his unimpressive appearance didn’t match his impressive words. Some, like Stanton, Lincoln’s political opponent in the election, made fun of his craggy nose and gaunt cheeks.
But after naming men he trusted to his cabinet, Lincoln chose Stanton to fill the critical post of secretary of war. “Mr. President,” his advisers protested, “do you know the ugly things Stanton has said about you? He’s your enemy. He’ll seek to sabotage your program.”
Lincoln’s brusque response: “Yes, I know Mr. Stanton. I’m aware of what he’s said about me. But after looking over the nation, I find that he’s the best man for the job.”
Stanton, to his critics’ surprise, served the president and nation with distinction. When Lincoln was assassinated, Stanton stood near the body of the man he had once hated and referred to him as one of the greatest men who ever lived.
Lincoln spoke kindly not only to his enemies but about his enemies. Overhearing Lincoln say a kind word about the South, an infuriated bystander confronted him about it.
“Madam,” he answered, “don’t I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
- John Trent in Choosing to Live the Blessing
Pray for someone you struggle to get along with.
Thought to Apply:
You can’t win by trying to even the score.
Adapted from Choosing to Live the Blessing (Conari, 1999).