Only Love Can Do That – The Voice of Martin Luther King Jr.

Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that.

Have you read any of the direct works of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Our pastor challenged us yesterday morning to do that this week. I pass his challenge along to you.

Dr. King’s words are as powerful in our decade as they were in the 1960s. Circumstances have improved in many areas regarding racial equality, but we haven’t yet arrived.

Sad to say, my first full-length reading of Dr. King’s words was only five years ago. One of my favorites is a collection of his sermons in Strength to Love.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes from that book.

You can find many of his works both online and in print. Further the cause of equality and love in our country by reading some of these inspired words.

And then use what you read by loving those around you.

  • Whoever they are.
  • Whatever they look like.
  • Whatever they believe.

We’re all children of God.

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. Only in this way shall we live without the fatigue of bitterness and the drain of resentment.
– Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love

And if you need to hear Dr. King’s voice again, listen here.

[If you can’t see the video, watch here]

Quotes from Strength to Love

“We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.”

~ * ~

“It should now be apparent that sincerity and conscientiousness in themselves are not enough. History has proven that these noble virtues may degenerate into tragic vices. Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

~ * ~

“Our most fruitful course is to stand firm with courageous determination, move forward nonviolently amid obstacles and setbacks, accept disappointments, and cling to hope.”

~ * ~

“Courage, therefore, is the power of the mind to overcome fear. Unlike anxiety, fear has a definite object which may be faced, analyzed, attacked, and, if need be, endured.”

~ * ~

“We say that war is a consequence of hate, but close scrutiny reveals this sequence: first fear, then hate, then war, and finally deeper hatred.”

~ * ~

“Is there a cure for these annoying fears that pervert our personal lives? Yes, a deep and abiding commitment to the way of love.”

~ * ~

“Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.”

* * *

Have you read any of Dr. King’s writings? His “I have a dream” speech? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives


16 thoughts on “Only Love Can Do That – The Voice of Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. bekahcubed

    We listened to the “I have a dream” speech this morning. I’ve been thinking of how frequently he references songs and hymns – I should make a playlist of some of them and listen with the kids.

  2. Pam Ecrement

    Hi Lisa!
    No, I have not actually read them, but recall hearing them in real time. Heard them repeated often. I often wonder now what his thoughts would be about the shift in how inequality is approached today, the manner of protests, the kinds of conversation about inequality and how it has morphed into talk about inequality of gender and so many other things. It saddens me to hear him lauded on this day and yet see less of his peaceful loving response to hatred and bigotry.

  3. Debbie

    Dr. King had such wisdom. I love his “I Have a Dream” speech. I teach my preschool class that we are all different shades of brown. Some are darker and some are lighter but we are all friends. That’s about all they can comprehend at their age, but I think it’s a good start. Maybe some of the adults need to hear that too. 🙂

  4. Laurie

    Now that you mention it, I am horrified to realize I have never read any of Dr. King’s direct works. I will rectify that today. Ordering the book you suggested. I just heard on the radio this morning that Dr. King was only 39 when he was assassinated. What a huge impact he had during his short life!

  5. Dolly at Soulstops

    Dr. King’s words are just as relevant today. His words and life were steeped in God’s Word and prayer, which then translated into action.

    Yes, so much to learn …I read Strength to Love before but I recently re-read parts of it.

  6. Trudy

    Oh, to have that courage to stand up for what is right, regardless of resistance! And such grace it takes to do it with love! This part of a quote especially grabs my attention – “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” Amen! Thank you, Lisa. Love and blessings to you!

  7. Lynn Severance

    As a young adult in the 60’s, Martin Luther King, Jr. was quite real to me along with the civil rights movement. I was working as a VISTA volunteer in an all black community in Washington, D.C. (99.9% of D.C. is black) when he was assassinated in TN in April ’68 and I watched D.C. erupt in riots, looting and smoke rising up around the Capitol. We had been anticipating his coming to a “Poor People’s Campaign” event and preparing make shift housing on the Mall grounds. One of my vivid memories from that time (along with armed guards on the streets and a curfew to be off the streets by 10p.m.) was my white roommate and I (the only white people in the community) gathering in a small church, praying with members of that church, joining hands as we stood in a circle, and singing, “We Shall Overcome”.

    I, too, wonder what he would think of our present day and just how far we have or have not come in living out his life message.

  8. David

    “Strength to Love” is a fantastic title! I’ll add it to my to-read list (I know, I know, but I have a separate list for Scripture and Christian writing which is not so long). I haven’t read any of his speeches — when I was young I preferred Malcolm X — I’ll fix that this year.

  9. Anita Ojeda

    These quotes go so well with Resist and Persist (I got it based off your review last week and I can’t put it down). As a privileged white woman, I have a responsibility that I’ve been shirking. No more.

  10. Mandy

    I to want to add Strength of Love too my reading list.
    I believe I read his I Have a Dream speech with my children. We homeschooled and we read much about black history. But its been quite awhile.

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