Martin, Jesus, Love and Hate

Quoteweaving-banner-art1-300x63Weaving together the quote of a famous one
and The Famous One


Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5: 43-45: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”


God does not want us to hate others. Period. And yet, there is a lot of hate in the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. encountered it in his day. We encounter it in ours. But the truth still remains—even those we love to hate and hate to love should be loved by us. But how do we do it?

At the Core: Forgiveness
In order to love, you must be able to forgive. In order to love your enemy, you must be very good at forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to loving in a broken world. There are simply no perfect people to love, therefore without forgiveness, you will simply be unable to love anybody for very long, if at all. We find a clue to the importance of forgiveness from one of Jesus’ most familiar teachings. He was responding to the question, “how do we pray?” But Jesus’ answer, the Lord’s Prayer, had much to say about the importance of forgiveness. In fact, Jesus taught that it is so important that God simply will not forgive those who don’t forgive others. Why this emphasis on forgiveness?
Because un-forgiveness is an incredible burden. Here’s how it works. When someone wrongs you and you fail to forgive, you carry bitterness, resentment, anger, hurt feelings, all heavy burdens that God does not intend for you to carry. The struggle to carry these burdens, if attempted for very long, gives rise to hate. The magic ingredient that reverses this process is forgiveness.

Can we do it?
We may say, “I can’t do this!” and we’re right. That’s the whole point. Only God can forgive in every situation. So when we say, “I can’t do this!” God says, “But I can!” When we claim Christ as our Savior and make Him Lord of our lives, we receive the free gift of forgiveness that His grace provides. This is not human forgiveness, but the eternal forgiveness of God Himself. Once we have received this gift we can share it with others. All others. It never runs out. Our ability to forgive, particularly in severe cases, reveals to the world whether we have received God’s forgiveness or not.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had many opportunities to hate those that opposed him. He had countless enemies and persecutors. Yet he remembered that he had the forgiveness of His Father in heaven, and thus had what he needed to love those that opposed him and persecuted him. His Savior had commanded Him and equipped him to do so. He commands and equips us to do so as well.

 

Standing Firm with Abe and Paul

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Abe & Paul

Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

The Apostle Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Paul and Abe have something pretty cool to say here. Follow this two-step plan:

Find the right place. Stay there.

Seems pretty simple, yet I’d dare say many of us may find it hard to do. One of the reasons for this might be that we tend to presume that where we are now is the right place. Once we open our hearts to the possibility that we might not be at the right place, we can actually get started with step one…

Finding The Right Place 

How do we find where the right place is? How do we evaluate the place we are to determine whether we should keep on walking or dig our heels in? Wouldn’t it be great if a large “Right City Exit Ahead” sign appeared along the highway or a “Right Blvd.” sign was posted at the correct intersection?  Well if we search Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians for this signage, lo and behold, I think we find it! Here’s the kicker. Paul’s road sign tells us that the right place is not a place at all, but an attitude. The right place is devotion to the work of the Lord and faith that His glorious purposes will be done through it. Giving ourselves fully to the Lord’s work puts our feet in the right place—on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ. Once there, it’s on to step two…

Standing Firm

The Rock upon which we are stand, is not a fixed location but an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus as our Savior and Lord. This Jesus, is not a passive, stay-put Lord, but one that is always at work in the world, always directing us to those He intends for us to reach in His name. So we must set our feet on the Rock of Jesus and be ready to rock ‘n’ roll with Jesus! Standing firm is not standing still. It is resolving to keep close to Him and the work He has for us, no matter where it takes us.

Lincoln did it. While battle plans changed, political coalitions changed, world affairs changed, He stood firm on the work He felt the Lord calling him to do—unite our nation.

Paul did it. When the Spirit said, “Don’t go there,” he didn’t. When the Spirit said, “Help us over here,”  he went. When he was with Jews, he remembered their customs. When he was with Gentiles, he tailored his witness to their culture. But he stood firm on the truth he preached and the fervency with which he preached it.

We must do it too – We must never refuse to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must be willing to follow Jesus where He leads us, to love those He loves (that’s everybody), and to proclaim Him always. We must never stand firm in the place of our choosing if it is not the place of His choosing. We must never stand in firm inaction when loving action is called for.