Part 3 A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart

MLK’s sermon concludes today…

“A third way is open to our quest for freedom, namely nonviolent resistance, which combines tough mindedness and tenderheartedness and avoids the complacency and do-nothingness of the soft minded and violence and bitterness of the hardhearted.

My belief is that this method must guide our action in the present crisis in race relations. Through nonviolent resistance we shall be able to oppose the unjust system and at the same time love the perpetrators of the system. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for full stature as citizens, but may it never be said, my friends, that to gain it we used the inferior methods of falsehood, malice, hate, and violence.

I would not conclude without applying the meaning of the text to the nature of God. The greatness of our God lies in the fact that he [sic] is both tough minded and tenderhearted. He has qualities both of austerity and of gentleness. The Bible,  clear in stressing both attributes of God, expresses his [sic] tough mindedness in his [sic] justice and wrath and his [sic] tenderheartedness in his [sic] love and grace.

…At times we need to know that the Lord is a God of justice. When slumbering giants of injustice emerge in the earth, we need to know that there is a God of power who can cut them down like the grass and leave them withering like the Greek herb. When our most tireless efforts fail to stop the surging sweep of oppression, we need to know that in this universe is a God whose matchless strength is a fit contrast to the sordid weakness of man [sic].

But there are also times when we need to know that God possesses love and mercy. When we are staggered by the chilly winds of adversity and battered by the raging storms of disappointment and when through our folly and sin we stray into some destructive far country and are frustrated because of a strange feeling of homesickness, we need to know that there is Someone who loves us, cares for us, understands us, and will give us another chance.

When days grow dark and nights grow dreary, we can be thankful that our God combines in his [sic] nature a creative synthesis of love and justice that will lead us through life’s dark valleys and into sunlit pathways of hope and fulfillment.”

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This complete sermon of MLK’s, along with a collection of others, can be found in Strength to Love, 2010.

 

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