Winning gracefully can be harder than losing gracefully. When we win we're tempted by arrogance, power, insensitivity, gloating, and wanting to relive our success long after everyone else is bored by it. Gracious winners always remember what it feels like to lose. They are caught up in something bigger than their own wins and losses. I discovered a story of great grace demonstrated by Abe Lincoln during his time as President that I wanted to share with you.
Abraham Lincoln had the wisdom to place the good of the country above his own ego, appointing his worst political critic, Edwin Stanton, to run the War Department. Stanton, a brilliant legal mind, could be brusque and condescending. As Frederick Douglass put it, "Politeness was not one of his weaknesses." Lincoln, on the other hand, was keenly aware of his looks and his uneducated background. (When someone charged him with being two-faced during a campaign, he responded: "If I had two faces, do you think I'd be wearing this one?"). As outgoing attorney general of the losing party, Stanton had belittled Lincoln as "the original gorilla." How Lincoln treated Stanton is Civil War history. Lincoln trusted in him, confided in him, leaned on him, depended on him. And Stanton responded with unfailing loyalty and affection.
On the morning of April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died after having been shot the night before at Ford's Theatre. The most famous words ever spoken after the death of a president were spoken that morning: "Now he belongs to the ages." The speaker was Edwin Stanton. Robert Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's son, said that after his father died he was visited in his room each morning for two weeks by Stanton who "Spent the first ten minutes of his visits weeping without saying a word." When nothing else works, showing grace does!
The book of 2nd Peter says it best. "Grow in grace." 2 Peter 3:18