Sgt. Richard Kirkland was a Confederate soldier in the US Civil War (1861–1865). When the Union’s failed charge at Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg left wounded soldiers abandoned in no-man’s land, Kirkland got permission to help them. Collecting canteens, he leaped the stone wall and bent over the first soldier to lend assistance. At great personal risk, the “Angel of Marye’s Heights” extended the mercy of Christ to enemy soldiers.
While few of us will face an enemy on the battlefield, those who suffer can be found all around us—people struggling against loneliness, loss, health issues, and sin. Their cries, muted by our many distractions, plead for mercy and comfort, for hope and help.
Kirkland’s example of Christlike compassion put action to Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). Paul expanded on that theme when he quotes Proverbs 25:21, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink” (Rom. 12:20). “Do not be overcome by evil,” he instructed us, “but overcome evil with good” (v.21).
Paul’s challenge compels us to emulate Sgt. Kirkland. Today is the day for us to “leap the wall” of safety to lend comfort from God to those in need.
Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not. – Samuel Johnson (RBC)