As we honor Martin Luther King Jr. — the pastor, activist and civil rights icon who inspired millions — it’s important to look back at his words of wisdom to glean timeless lessons that can continue to guide our personal relations and relate back to our faith.
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Here are just five Martin Luther King Jr. quotes that will cause you to think deeper about the importance of God, faith, peace and unity:
Hatred is Never the Answer
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
This Martin Luther King Jr. quote reminds us that darkness and hatred are never the answer and that light is the real antidote to hate and pain. We can't help but think of the Bible verse John 12:35-36 (NIV):
"...Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”
God is our light. And as we know, God is love. When we believe in the light and learn to shine Christ's light in our own lives and into the lives of those we're surrounded by, we share God's love.
Through love we can transform relationships and bring others to Christ. Martin Luther King Jr. is reminding us with this quote that we should treat everyone we come in contact with with the love of Jesus Christ.
Loving Our Neighbors is Essential
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
This quote from Martin Luther King Jr. was delivered during a 1967 sermon about Christmas — one in which King focused on peace and loyalty. This quote reminds us of the second Commandment, which we can find in the Bible verse Mark 12:30-31 (NIV):
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Martin Luther King Jr. is encouraging people to embrace a “world perspective” with this quote. He is asking each of us to "love our neighbor as yourself," as the Commandment aslo tells us. As we think about faith, hope and peace, this is an important lesson to learn.
“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Faith is all about building a relationship with God. This Martin Luther King Jr. quote encourages people to take the first step in faith, and to trust the Lord in the process.
We know that having faith in hard times is difficult, especially when we aren't able "to see the whole staircase" of God's master plan. Great American Pure Flix has a plethora of movies that explore this exact topic, and how we can learn to trust what the Lord is doing in our lives, even when we can't see the bigger picture.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
Justice matters. That’s a message Christians should embrace. It’s also one that King cared deeply about, penning the aforementioned words in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” As we consider the world around us, it’s important to pray for and work toward justice.
Just as God offers us justice and righteousness, we must act justly and righteous towards one anther. This Martin Luther King Jr. quote reminds us of the Bible verse Micah 6:8 (NIV):
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
In this quote by Martin Luther King Jr., King decried violence and made clear a reality about the importance of truth. Speaking in a 1964 speech to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, the civil rights leader said that truth and love deeply matter. And that goodness — even if defeated in the immediate — will always triumph above evil.
The Bible also tells us to speak in truth and that speaking it lovingly is what we are called to do as Christ's body. Ephesians 4:15 (NIV) says:
"... speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."
That wraps our list of powerful quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. For more inspiration sent straight to your inbox, subscribe to the Great American Pure Flix Insider email newsletter.