In the middle of February most of us in the United States will have a day off of work or school in honor of a holiday called Presidents' Day. What's the real value of this particular day?
Obviously it's nice to have another long weekend! Department stores use it as yet another excuse for big sales events, and people who can afford it take trips to the beach or ski slopes. But there is actually a greater significance to Presidents' Day—one that is good for true Christians anywhere in the world to consider.
Early in our history, Americans celebrated Feb. 22 as George Washington's birthday. He was the first president from 1789 to 1797, and we call him the "father" of our country. Later, people began to also commemorate Abraham Lincoln's birth on the 12th of the month. He led the United States during her darkest hours to date, the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. So it is logical for Americans to set aside a day during February to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of these great leaders and other notable presidents.
But do we see the real logic of it? Do we think about the sacrifice these men made, both in personal fortune and in time and effort? Their decisions and actions affected millions of people and helped shape the world we live in. They represent historical wisdom that we need in our lives today.
President Washington refused to accept a third term as president, despite the fact that many begged him to do so. He knew that others would follow his precedent, and he believed that America needed the wisdom of a succession of heads-of-state rather than that of a single king.
President Lincoln appointed several of his greatest political rivals to advise him as part of his cabinet during the war. He wanted access to the best wisdom of the most talented people available—even if some of them were his opponents. To Lincoln, saving the nation was far more important than saving his own pride.
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20 Proverbs 13:20He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
American King James Version×). This proverb cautions us about whom to hang out with and is a guide for selecting whom we should learn from.
Abraham Lincoln was one of the wisest men in America's history. You can't literally walk with him, but you can learn about his life and read his words. The same goes for other wise presidents, like Washington, John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt and others. You can clearly learn more wisdom from them than from people like Kevin Federline, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise or even Oprah Winfrey.
The most profound wisdom is divine wisdom from the Bible. But, in conjunction with God's Word, you can also learn a lot from secular history.
If you want to be great, study the lives of great men and women! I always tell my history students that there are a few people whose biographies they should definitely read. Washington and Lincoln are high on that list. Check a good biography out of the library and spend some time next month learning from a wise man.
Be sure to also request or download your free copy of Making Life Work to learn more about God's wisdom for all aspects of your life. VT