Learning from Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an imperfect man of faith who chose to fight against the darkness, not with the violence or hatred that comes so easily to the human heart, but with love. Powered by his faith in God, he strove to rise above the injustices and prejudices of his day, and those of all time, and in turn lift each one of us up with him.

His words, and his example, stand as a beacon of hope lighting the path to unity and brotherhood. Not a unity of black or white, yellow or brown. Nor a brotherhood of rich or poor, liberal or conservative, educated or uneducated. Neither a world of separate but equal or reversed favoritism. But a fellowship of oneness of all, where we are judged solely by the content of our character.

His choices, like mine and yours, shaped his character, and his character in turn shaped his choices. Martin Luther King Jr. chose the way of light and love, and in doing so shaped his character from that of an imperfect man to a great human being.


There is much we can learn from him, but instead of telling you what I think that might be, I’ll let his words speak for themselves.

  • “The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure nor avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”
  • “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.”
  • “The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”
  • “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  • “When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.”
  • “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “I just want to do God’s will.”
  • Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  • “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
  • “The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being as well.”
  • “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
  • “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
  • “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
  • “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.”
  • “We may all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
  • “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 quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what’s important.”
  • “Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, ‘White Power!’ — when nobody will shout,  ‘Black Power!’—but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power.”
  • “Whatever you life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
  • “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
  • “At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”
  • “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
  • “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”
  • “Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
  • “Nonviolence means avoiding not only physical violence but also violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
  • “If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values- that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.“
  • “Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control.”
  • “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”
  • “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
  • “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
  • “Never forget that everything Hitler did was legal.”
  • “As my suffering mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation—either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the later course.”
  • “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
  • “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”
  • “We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

Be blessed today, my friend.






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