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Thoughts From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,

Last week I sent out some of the simple yet wise thoughts of D. L. Moody, in honor of his life and ministry, and in the hopes that you might find encouragement through them. This week I send out thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Yesterday we celebrated "Martin Luther King Jr. Day" here in America. Yet, for many, other than King's efforts at working for racial equality in America, and his assasination for doing so, many know very little about him or what guided him. Therefore, I offer you some of his "thoughts" to give you an idea of the beliefs and principles that guided him in his life and work. And as I read some of them, in light of the somewhat polarized state of our country at the present time, I couldn't help but feel it would do us well to hear some of them again. In fact, if you have the time, I'd be interested in hearing which of them you found the most encouraging or challenging. Enjoy.

“This is the glory of our religion: that when man decides to rise up from his mistakes, from his sin, from his evil, there is a loving God saying, “Come home, I still love you."


“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education.”

“I’m here to tell you today that we need God. Modern man may know a great deal, but his knowledge does not eliminate his need for God.”

“If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”

“In contrast to ethical relativism, Christianity sets forth a system of absolute moral values and affirms that God has placed within the very structure of this universe certain moral principles that are fixed and immutable.”

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”


“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”

“Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love.”

“I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.”


“The greatness of our God lies in the fact that He is both tough minded and tender hearted. ... God expresses His tough mindedness in His justice and wrath and His tenderheartedness in His love and grace. ... On the one hand, God is a God of justice who punished Israel for her wayward deeds, and on the other hand, He is a forgiving Father whose heart was filled with unutterable joy when the prodigal son returned home.”

“Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friend and enemy; it is directed toward both.”

“If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution.”


“There are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."” [Acts 4:19]

“We may have all come [to the United States] on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.”

As is the case with every author or speaker, some of their words strike home more than others. Yet, I trust you found his words insightful in revealing his heart, and challenging in relation to the Church, and how we as believers should interact with those who disagree with us.

In the Bonds of the Gospel, Pastor Jeff

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