Are We Missing the Point?

Looking back at the month that has just passed, we have had occasion to commemorate the birthday of two of the greatest American leaders in the history of our country. In the classrooms of our schools, in our newspapers and magazines, and in the thoughts of the American people, the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were remembered; numerous pictures and illustrations of their famous past were seen; news editorials on their contributions to our country were written; dinners were held in remembrance of the political position which they held; and the youthful incidents such as the episode of the cherry tree and the well-known rail-splitting contests were heard with enthusiasm by both young and old.

Let us take a few moments and look at the lives of two men who have no doubt played one of the most important roles in the life of each and every one of us, and ask ourselves personally, “Are we missing the point?”

On February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, George Washington was born. Reared by wealthy parents, he was taught at an early age many wise and prudent ways. As he grew up, he advanced in knowledge, and at the young age of 20 years he was commissioned a major in the colonial army. For thirty-one years, he devoted his life to the army for the establishment and protection of American freedom. Then at the age of fifty-seven, in 1789, he was elected the first President of the United States. This important event in his life is no doubt the most well-known event with which we associate him. To the people of that day and to all the American people, he became known as “The Father of our Country.”

Ten years after the death of Washington, in the backwoods of Kentucky on February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. He was a wilderness child, born in a clay-floor cabin that had no windows and one door. Nevertheless, he also at an early age acquired much knowledge, and especially, a deep sense of feeling for his fellow countrymen. He began practicing law and in 1847 was elected to the House of Representatives. It was here where the dreadful practice of slavery aroused his innermost convictions. After taking an active part for thirteen years in the abolishment of slavery, he was elected the sixteenth President of the United States. One month after his inauguration, war broke out, and be became burdened with the dreadful horrors of a civil war. “A house divided against itself cannot stand”; and so the war continued for four long years, and even though he did not live to witness the victory, he became known to all as “The Great Emancipator.”

Looking back at the lives of these men, the question is often asked, are the works of these men great? Can we say that they are good in the sight of God?

The world honors these men as heroes, as men to be highly esteemed and honored for bringing freedom to this country. They proclaim a national holiday in remembrance of them so that the spirit of Washington and Lincoln shall live on for generations to come.

But as Christians, we do not honor these men as heroes. We ascribe all honor to whom honor is due; the Almighty God. Psalm 104:1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art clothed with honor and majesty.” We do not honor any human being for the work he has performed, for, Job 7:17, “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? And that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” Realizing this fact, we then speak as the Psalmist does in Ps. 8:3-4 where we read, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”