Oct 8, 2013

Learning From Lincoln

Edward Stanton
Edwin Stanton, secretary of war under Lincoln, was livid. A junior officer disobeyed a direct order. When you disobey an army order it can have devastating results. When Stanton met with Lincoln he told the President that he was going to write a letter to the man. Lincoln agreed. “Write it now while you have it on your mind. Make it sharp. Cut him all up”. Stanton did.

When Stanton read the letter back to Lincoln it was devastating. It had the desired effect. It was a bone crusher. Stanton then wondered how he could get the letter to his junior officer. But Lincoln stepped in. “Don’t send the letter”, replied the President. “You have freed your mind on the subject and that is all that is necessary. Just tear it up”.

Anger. When it happens in our lives it has many effects. It raises our blood pressure and changes our mood. But the most devastating impact of anger is that it clouds our judgment. How many times have we made a rash decision out of anger that we later regretted? How many good solutions have never come to pass because we were too angry or proud to let it go?

Here’s the truth about anger. The damaging aspects of anger happen only to the one who is angry. Many times the angry one lashes out makes a fool of himself.

Jesus has a better way. Two teachings come to mind. The first is from Matthew 7:5. If you are angry with the speck in your brother’s eye, be sure to remove the log from your own first. In other words, write a letter and sit on it for awhile. Make sure you see your own sin before you accuse someone else of theirs.

The second is Matthew 18:15-19. If your brother sins against you, go and talk to him directly. Hear both sides of the story. Work it out. Reconcile.

Imagine the things that could be done when all of the energy spent in anger could be spent for the kingdom of God!

When Jesus was killed by the angry mob, he held no anger. He reconciled us with God so that our anger would not separate us from Him. And that grace gives us the strength to write the letter and tear it up.

Pastor David Hook

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