Abraham Lincoln was called an “ape.” His voice had a Midwestern twang. He only had one year of formal education. Edwin Stanton, who would later serve as Lincoln’s Secretary of War, first met him in Cincinnati in 1855. Lincoln had been invited to assist Stanton in an important civil case. Stanton described him as a “tall, rawly boned, ungainly back woodsman, with coarse, ill-fitting clothing, his trousers hardly reaching his ankles, holding in his hands a blue cotton umbrella with a ball on the end.” After Lincoln introduced himself and suggested, “Let’s go up in a gang,” Stanton decided to have nothing to do with him. He even refused to invite Lincoln to dine at his table.
Lincoln was elected president in 1860 with less than 40% of the popular vote.
When he delivered the Gettysburg Address, few listened. The Chicago Times panned
the speech stating, "The cheeks of every American must tingle with shame
as he reads the silly, flat, and dishwatery utterances."
Abraham Lincoln is now regarded as perhaps our greatest president. Every year
millions visit his Memorial that overlooks the mall in Washington, D.C. And the
speech that the Chicago Times called "silly and flat” is memorized by most
students of American history.
By contrast, in an open and free election on March 29, 1936, Adolf Hitler
received 98.8% of the German popular vote. His spellbinding oratory and promises
to make Germany great again mesmerized an entire generation. He was proclaimed the savior of Germany. At his peak, more than a million gathered
in Nuremberg each year to praise and adore him.
But beneath those appearances lurked a
sinister ego-maniac who would exterminate approximately 20 million people
including Jews, the mentally ill, the infirm and the elderly. Today, Hitler’s
name is synonymous with evil. References to him have been virtually erased in
Germany, except for the Document Center in Nuremberg, preserved as a reminder
of the nation’s darkest days.
Describing Christ 800 years before He was born, the prophet Isaiah
wrote, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no
beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and
carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
The public image and first impressions are often deceiving. What truly matters
is that which resides within. The Bible says, “The Lord does not look at the
things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord
looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).