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Monday, September 24, 2012

A Friend in Deed

By Johnny Hester

Just today I re-discovered an interesting Civil War story about President Abraham Lincoln and how he chose to deal with a particularly difficult matter.


During the War Between the States, President Lincoln received many requests for pardons for soldiers who had deserted and had been sentenced to death. With each appeal came letters of testimony from family and friends telling of the soldier's endearing qualities and why his life should be spared.


One request for pardon came on a single sheet of paper. No letters were attached. Surprised, the president asked the officer in charge why no one spoke for this man. "This soldier has no friends, Mr. President. All his family died during the war." The president thanked the officer and told him he'd let him know what his decisions were in the morning.


That night the president struggled with his decisions. Desertion was a serious matter, and if he were to overrule a death sentence, he would be sending a message to his troops. Yet, he sympathized with the man who had no one who loved him in the world.


The next morning the officer returned to the president's office and learned that the president had made his decision, based on the testimony of a friend. "But Sir, there were no letters of testimony for this man!"


"I will be his friend," the President said as he signed the pardon.


The president made a tough decision. It was a decision based not on personal self-interest, but based upon the need of another. That is precisely the choice that Jesus made when He demonstrated His friendship toward us in an unmistakable way - He died in our stead. He died so that we might live!


The death that Jesus chose to suffer was the ultimate demonstration of loving friendship. And, the Lord tells us how we are to show our friendship and love for Him. He declared in John 15:13-14, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."


In 1904, perhaps with this passage in mind, Will. L. Thompson penned the following verse:


Jesus is all the world to me:

   I want no better friend;
I trust Him now, I'll trust Him when
   life's fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a friend,
   beautiful life what has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy:
   He's my friend.

How blessed we are to have Jesus as our friend. Let's determine to bring our lives into compliance with His will and, in doing so, demonstrate that we are His friends as well.


- Johnny Hester preaches for the Shady Acres Church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at
http://www.shadyacreschurch.com

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