Have you ever questioned what grace and forgiveness really look like? What is the standard that God wants us to live by? Are there times that it is okay to not forgive?
As I read scripture I see a message that forgiveness and grace should mark the lives of believers and everything we do should come from a heart that has been transformed to overflow with love. This story is a great example of what love and grace look like, even to an enemy that would take your life if you were standing in a different location.
On Palm Sunday morning, April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee put on his finest dress uniform, mounted Traveller, and rode away from his tired and tattered troops to Appomatox, where he would surrender his beaten army to General Ulysses S. Grant. As Lee rode to meet his conqueror, he fully expected that his men would be herded like cattle into railroad cars and taken to a Union prison and that he, as their general, would be tried and executed as a disgraced traitor.
In the tidy living room of the home where the vanquished and the victor met, Lee asked Grant what his terms of surrender were to be. Grant told Lee that his men were free to take their horses with them and go back to their little farms and that Lee too was free to go home and create a new life. Lee offered Grant his sword; Grant refused it. Lee heaved a sigh; he came expecting to be humiliated, and he left with dignity and honor. As he watched General Lee mount Traveller and ride back to his troops, Grant took off his hat and saluted his defeated enemy. It was a gracious grace. And it deeply affected the defeated general: as long as he lived, Lee allowed no critical word of Grant to be spoken in his presence. Grace graciously given honors our worth as it overlooks our undeserving. (From Shame and Grace by Lewis B. Smedes, p.120)