The voice of Martin Luther King, Jr.

strength-to-love-martin-luther-king     Some of us, of course, will die without having received the realization of freedom, but we must continue to sail on our charted course.

     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

I couldn’t read these sermons in Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr., without hearing this voice.

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

I’m sorry it’s the first full-length book I’ve read of his writings. His 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 arrived.

And we face yet other battles of inequality, even in our families, neighborhoods, churches, universities, as well as worldwide. Dr. King’s principles—many taken directly from scripture—are just as applicable to these.

So my words here will be few so you can read more of Dr. King’s.

May his voice still ring in our ears loud and clear.

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.

* Is not fear one of the major causes of war? 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. Were a nightmarish nuclear war to engulf our world, the cause would not be so much that one nation hated another, but that both nations feared each other.

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

Leave a comment here.

26 thoughts on “The voice of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. Mia

    Dear Lisa
    Mr King was a great inspiration for our late Madiba (Mr Nelson Mandela), but like any true leader of God, Madiba also had to go through his wilderness for 27 years like Moses did for 40 years before they could be used of God. But I can assure you that like the Israelites did, South Africa has strayed again far into the territory of the evil one, crying at the Rivers of Babylon. Actually, it never left that damnable place for man was never created with the ability to be an independent self, never mind governing themselves!
    Blessings XX

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I always appreciate your voice, Mia. I know you’ve witnessed–and continue to witness–some of the harsh discrimination between men. I’m grateful for the leaders that God uses to raise awareness and help eliminate injustices. But we’ll never get it right on our own so I shouldn’t be surprised when I hear that we’re so easily derailed when left to our own doing. We all need the Lord’s grace and guidance, every nation, every person.

  2. floyd

    I’ve read much from Dr. King. The first manuscript I wrote was titled The Common Threads of Greatness, I used his life as one of my center points. The book was a unwrapping of the qualities or traits, from a Biblical perspective, that make up the greatest people. Thanks for the reminder, Lisa. I always enjoy reading the words of a man who faced the possibility of death daily, where he lived, and did it with a zeal only our Father could have provided.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I didn’t know about your “The Common Threads of Greatness”, Floyd. Sounds marvelous. You’re obviously quite familiar with Dr King.

      Back in college (eons ago), I did a research paper on Mahatma Gandhi, and having to read so much about him made me appreciate his willingness to sacrifice so much for others and for justice. Thankful we can at least read about great people we never have opportunities to meet.

  3. Nancy Sturm

    I used to teach parallel writing by using the “I Have a Dream” speech. In addition to Dr. King’s scriptural content, his words had such beautiful cadence and parallel structure. Listening to his words is almost like listening to the poetry in the bible. Thanks for sharing Dr. King’s words!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I imagine you got some very creative writings turned in from that assignment, Nancy. I find it impossible to read Dr. King’s words without hearing his cadence; makes it even more enjoyable and presses his message in even deeper.

  4. ceil

    Hi Lisa! I have not read any of Dr. King’s books. You are making a good case for me to start.

    The things that he said were so uniting, pointing out how much we need each other. What a voice in the wilderness indeed. I can apply his great wisdom to so much in my life, as I hope everyone does who reads them.

    Thank you for sharing this today. I really have to get to the library!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Ceil, his words were so uniting, not divisive. Much of his message was that when we hold back some, we’re really holding back all. We still haven’t lived out his dream, but hopefully we’re closer than we were, and will keep moving forward in the right direction.

  5. Sherrey Meyer

    Thanks for sharing Dr. King’s writings with us today. Like many, I still hear his voice every time I see his image or hear his “I Have a Dream” speech. I was living in Nashville, TN the night he was assassinated and I can still hear the wails of the African-American community only two blocks from where I lived on the edge of Vanderbilt University’s campus. The sorrow, the loss felt that night, and felt still today, is an overriding memory for so many. I have not read any of his books, but you have opened my eyes to the possibilities and I will now seek them out. Visting from Hear It on Sunday.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Wow–thanks for sharing your story, Sherrey. I can only imagine how you felt hearing those wails the night of the assassination. I was reading just this morning the passage in Exodus about the angel of death passing through the Egyptian households killing the first-born sons, and wondering how loud the cries must have been when every house had a death in it. Unimaginable. God does not want his people to be enslaved. He came to set us all free.

  6. susan@avintagefarmwife

    hi, Lisa! Stopping by from Mindy’s place.
    I have read the “I Have a Dream” speech and love it. The quotes you shared are all so good, but the one that really speaks to me is “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” We are witnessing that all around us and there are definite consequencs.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Susan, that quote stands out to me, too. There are certainly consequences that we pay not only for our own ignorance but also for others’ ignorance, regardless of how sincere it may be. May the Lord continue to guide us into knowledge and wise choices to use that knowledge. I appreciate you stopping in and sharing.

  7. Lisha Epperson

    ” Our most fruitful course is to stand firm with courageous determination, move forward nonviolently amid obstacles and setbacks, accept disappointments, and cling to hope.” How Ineeded to read this today. Thank you Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      His words still ring true and still call us higher. We haven’t arrived… I’m thankful I read your post as well, Lisha. We must remain vigilant for continued change and cling to Jesus as our hope.

  8. Laura

    This is a true gem, Lisa. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read a full manuscript of his work either–just essays and sermons here and there. But I love to hear his voice and these tidbits you share here are so lovely. I need to read more.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So many good things to read–it’s impossible to fit them all in, isn’t it? I’ve been enjoying some hard-hitters this past month: MLK, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama. I love getting their voices in my head. Great examples of grace and love.

  9. Alison Hector

    Like I mentioned, I have this book, Lisa. It was given to me by one of my best friends for my birthday. I began reading it last year but need to resume reading. There’s so much wisdom, but also such a poignancy, knowing what awaited him.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly–knowing what we know, on this side of his death, his words are even more striking to me. He knew death was a real possibility for him if he continued standing up for justice, yet he pressed in anyway. Would that we would all be so courageous for the truth. What a thoughtful birthday present from your friend. Yes, read on. 🙂

  10. Mary

    No, Lisa, I haven’t read any of his writings, but have listened so some of his speeches/sermons. These quotes you share…they give me reason to seek out his writings.

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