The year was 1848. Abraham Lincoln’s stepbrother, John Johnston, who had a history of financial problems, requested Abe’s help in a financial matter.
Abe responded by letter (Dec. 24). Here is an excerpt. “Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it best to comply with now. At various times when I have helped you a little … in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your character. What the defect is, I think I know … I doubt whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day’s work … This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty, and it is vastly important to you, and still more to your children, that you break this habit … What I propose is that you should work ‘tooth and nail’ for someone who will give you money for it … I now promise you that for every dollar you will, between this and the first of next May … I will give you one other dollar … But if I should now clear you out, next year you will be just as deep in as ever. You say that you would almost give your place in heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in heaven very cheaply … You have always been kind to me, and I do not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eighty times eighty dollars to you. Affectionately your brother” (www.quotablelincoln.com/LincolnLetters.html ).
1. Would you tell the young man to work? “A little sheep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep – so shall your poverty come upon you like a prowler. And your need like an armed man” (Prov. 6:10-11). “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Prov. 6:6-8). “Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands” (1 Thes. 4:11).
2. Would you give the young man money? “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10).