Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
During the 1960’s, what was considered right by many Americans was challenged by others who believed this right was actually wrong. For too long, black Americans had endured “separate but equal” status…until the premise was finally challenged and ruled an impossibility. No more “white” and “colored” signs above restrooms and water fountains. No more “Coloreds use back door” signs plastered near the front entrances of restaurants. The time had arrived for right to prevail. And prevail it did…through marches, sit-ins, blood, sweat, tears, hangings, beatings, murders, tears, loss, speeches, clubbings, dog attacks, police brutality, sexual abuse, and a number of other unmentionables. Doing right is never wrong, but it can be painful.
Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (I Timothy 4:12 NLT) Jesus echoed a similar theme when he informed his children that they were the salt of the earth (Matthew 5;13). Pouring salt into an open wound stings. Salt can even kill, but salt also has the capacity to flavor, and this is the aspect Jesus referenced. Paul told young Timothy to do that through speech, actions, love, faith, and a pure lifestyle. Exercising any and all of these traits is never wrong but always right.
Love and faith in the midst of hate were two prominent characteristics of the Civil Rights participants that challenged their haters to look differently at their own beliefs. So did their speaking kind words in their responses rather than ones dripping with anger.
I can do no less in a more tolerant society. Monitoring my speech so that it’s filled with kindness, letting my actions reflect love and faith, and examining the purity of my motives are always the right things to do.
Never compromise by doing what’s wrong in an attempt to manufacture a right.
Prayer: Give us strength, Master and Lord, to do right in spite of the temptations to do wrong.
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