Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For many people, this day reminds them of hate … it reminds them of separation … it reminds them of oppression and pain and struggle. However, for me, this day has always been about love. It is about choosing to love when it is all too easy to hate. It is about the power of people choosing to act better, do better, be better.
My favorite MLK Jr. quote is “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I just love that. Hate fuels things – it puts a burning inside your heart that even when it withers to embers can still be fanned back into flames. Hate takes a spot that could be filled with love, and it burns it until it is black and charred and empty. And even empty, that space weighs you down. That isn’t what I want in my heart.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the most basic understanding of love that God gives us in the Bible. It tells us that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love never fails.” Not sometimes, not under the right conditions, not maybe … but never … love NEVER fails.
These are words I am trying hard to live out in my daily choices. There are things that have happened in my life recently that could give me reason to be angry, reason to be hurtful, reason to hate. We all have those times in our lives. Some times are so much harder than others. But I am choosing love. And I see that choice supported through the strength and peace that my heavenly Father continues to bestow on me every single step I take. People may argue that loving in the face of adversity may seem weak or self-destructive. But love is by far the harder choice; it takes more strength; it takes more patience; it takes more will than hate. Hate is easy; choosing to love is sometimes almost unbearable. But when you choose love, God fills you with it, so much that it seems to carry you through anything. I am standing today because of God’s love.
If you are hurting right now bearing the burden of hate, stop and think about what that is really doing to you. It sure isn’t doing anything to the person or group your hate is directed at. It may not be easy, but if you can get there, it is so much more rewarding for you to choose love. And sometimes, you may be surprised at the results you get from others in doing so. MLK Jr. was right – hate hurts too much. Love lifts you up. Try it.