leadership-2122020_1920Today we honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to American society. Of the many things he accomplished, he may be best known for promotion of non-violence during protests. And he certainly advocated love over hate.

How are we doing living out his words? Our scorecard isn’t good.

Maybe today we can pause and ask, “Are we choosing love over hate?” We have a choice when it comes to our reactions when things don’t go our way. While I can’t control the press, celebrities and others who will choose to be hateful and critical, I can control my mouth. I can look to the Bible for guidance.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Pause and mediate on this verse. Now, think about what you have said in your day-to-day conversations with friends and family. Have your words met the standard of Psalm 19:14?

1 Peter 2:12 tells us, “Keep your conduct honorable.”

Honorable conduct includes the words we say. Those words should not include name-calling, gloating, elitism, fear-mongering, hate, lying and disgust. Instead, we are to guard our hearts and mouths because words are powerful. Let’s not be guilty of behaving in ways that are disturbing. Let’s resist the urge to retaliate against those who are mean-spirited. Matthew 5:44 tells us to bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully use us. Ultimately, we are to love our enemies. This is only possible with a transformed heart.

James 3 tells us that we can praise our Lord and Father, but also curse our brothers and sisters who have been made in God’s likeness. The tongue is a fire, capable of consuming others. It must be tamed by the Holy Spirit in us. So before we speak, let’s check our words and ask the Lord to help us bless others rather than curse them.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Now is the time to model love, humility, and civility toward one another–whether you like or hate the direction of our country. Haven’t we had enough verbal attacks and negative messaging? Have we forgotten that mercy triumphs over judgment?

We, the people, can behave differently. Let’s start by controlling our tongue and actually treat each other with respect. Today, honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and God by choosing love over hate.

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