On the heels of this nation’s recent celebration of the life and legacy of renowned civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I feel compelled in my heart and soul to share a lesson about love and hate, two subjects of which he so eloquently and frequently spoke of to the world.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Although this is one of his most famous quotes about love and hate, God knows this world needs to realize it and work on it. Hating people for the color of their skin, race, creed, religion, social status, habitat, beliefs and so on, should have no place in this society.
If you are a true believer in Christ, you cannot hate; you will love and seek to help others to love. I John 4:20 (ESV) declares so vividly, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.’” Therefore, love is enduring — hate is crippling!
In other words, true love will last forever, but hate will ruin, destroy, harm, paralyze, weaken, undermine, stifle and the list is unending.
Why is love enduring? According to the Word, “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1 NIV). Rebecca Barlow Jordan, inspirational author and greeting card writer said, “Some Christians misunderstand God’s love. Fearful that He might retract it, they hoard blessings rather than use or enjoy them. But God’s fresh mercy is available to us for the asking. And goodness is His inherent character. He offers enduring love. God’s love is not like the secular version on earth: ‘I will if you will.’ It’s not based on a ‘falling in or out’ kind of relationship. He loved us before we were ever born. And His love lasts forever. God doesn’t wait until we jump through His religious hoops or meet His high standards to promise His affections. He loves us just as we are.”
When love endures, it’s not about talk, because an empty wagon makes a lot of noise. It is about genuine action and ongoing concern for your fellow man. You cannot say that you love one another if you see that your fellow man is being mistreated and you remain silent. On that note, Dr. King affirmed, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
If you say that you love your fellow man, you will reach out and help those who are less fortunate. Dr. King declared, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” If you love your fellow man, you will reach out to those who hate and teach them how to love.
This courageous leader told the world, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” Therefore, if you allow love to endure, you will do everything you can to leave this world better than you found it. If you allow love to endure, you will speak positive rhetoric to encourage, inspire and motivate others and not hateful rhetoric to tear down, discourage, destroy and kill the spirit of your fellow man.
Then why is hate crippling? It is crippling because it doesn’t help in any positive way. It seeks to paralyze and immobilize that which is good for mankind. Hate stirs up strife, spreads poisonous rumors, infects the minds of those who would otherwise share love, burns down anything that is valuable and worthy, wreaks havoc on what could be a time of peace and causes pain on a grand scale.
Therefore, I understand what our fallen civil rights leader meant when he firmly echoed these words: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. When you have hate in your heart, it weighs you down, but when you have love in your heart, it frees you, and it lets you live; it makes everything peaceful and easier. Love stops the hurting tears but gives joyful ones.”
My prayer is that we come together as a nation, put away the divisiveness, leaders perpetuate freedom and justice for all mankind free of bias and ill will, genuinely be there for one another and love each other as Christ has loved us.
Lord, please let enduring love prevail, and crippling hate be cast into the waters, never to rise again. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)