Before he enlisted in the Union Army to fight during the US Civil War, Joshua Chamberlain was a quiet and unassuming college professor. In the crucible of military combat he distinguished himself for his heroism in holding the line on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
To recognize Chamberlain’s contribution to the Union victory, General Ulysses S. Grant designated him to receive the first flag of surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The defeated troops of the South expected to be ridiculed and humiliated. Instead, Chamberlain showed them kindness and respect. For this, the Confederate commanding officer wrote in his memoirs that Chamberlain was “one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army.”
As a committed Christian, Chamberlain reflected the grace of Christ. We too need to stand for what we believe but also to be kind to those with whom we disagree. Paul exhorted Timothy, “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ . . . be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Tim. 2:3,24-25). In conflict and in reconciliation, our response should reflect the gracious heart of a knightly soldier of Christ.
Oh, to be like Him, tender and kind,
Gentle in spirit, lowly in mind;
More like Jesus, day after day,
Filled with His Spirit now and alway. —Ellsworth
There is nothing so kingly as kindness; there is nothing so royal as truth.