Feb 28, 2010

A New Style of Law

Many people know I am an admirer of Abe Lincoln because of his unorthodox common sense which appeals to the pragmatism I try to carry around with me. Here is a fine story of Lincoln who always seemed to know just what to do to make everyone happy (except for that whole Civil War thing).

Once, back in the late 1830s, a rich man in Springfield, Illinois insisted a poor man owed him $2.50. When it was evident the poor man was not going to pay, the rich man contacted a young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln. At first, Lincoln did not want to take the case. He finally agreed, if the rich man would pay his fee up front . . . $ 10 in cash. The client readily agreed and produced the money.

Then Lincoln went to the poor man and offered him $5 if he would settle the alleged debt. Thus Lincoln received $5 for himself, the poor man got $2.50 and the claim was satisfied. The rich man paid three times the original debt, just to gain satisfaction. The Gospels are clear, Jesus always came to the aid of the poor and the oppressed, such as in the Jerusalem Temple. No wonder he ran into opposition from the religious authorities and the Romans.

Whenever we fail to forgive the debts of others—as God has forgiven us—there will be a price that we pay. Sometimes that price is three times what is necessary only to get our satisfaction. If we could pass along the gifts to others that God has first offered us, just think of what a redeemed world we would inhabit.

During Lent perhaps we might forgive all those measly $2.50 debts people owe us and save ourselves a lot of grief in the process.


Susan Schrock said...

A great message!

Steve Heyduck said...

Excellent point well made. Thank you.

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