On this MLK Day, we are inspired by the sentiments expressed in one of Dr. King’s most often shared quotes on social media: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
We are God’s change agents, placed in position to make a tremendous impact in our community. In researching the context of Dr. King’s famous quote, we found that its source is a popular sermon he delivered many times called “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.” In the sermon, he talks of the importance of the three dimensions in our lives and relationships: ourselves, others and God. When you get all three of these together, your life is complete.
Here’s an excerpt from that passionate sermon. We hope it inspires you today as you reflect on the impact of Dr. King’s ministry and his call serve others in your community.
This is what God needs today: Men and women who will ask, "What will happen to humanity if I don’t help? What will happen to the civil rights movement if I don’t participate? What will happen to my city if I don’t vote? What will happen to the sick if I don’t visit them?" This is how God judges people in the final analysis.
Oh, there will be a day, the question won’t be, "How many awards did you get in life?" Not that day. It won’t be, "How popular were you in your social setting?" That won’t be the question that day. It will not ask how many degrees you’ve been able to get. The question that day will not be concerned with whether you are a "Ph.D." or a "no D." It will not be concerned with whether you went to Morehouse or whether you went to "No House." The question that day will not be, "How beautiful is your house?" The question that day will not be, "How much money did you accumulate? How much did you have in stocks and bonds?" The question that day will not be, "What kind of automobile did you have?" On that day the question will be, "What did you do for others?"
Now I can hear somebody saying, "Lord, I did a lot of things in life. I did my job well; the world honored me for doing my job. I did a lot of things, Lord; I went to school and studied hard. I accumulated a lot of money, Lord; that’s what I did." It seems as if I can hear the Lord of Life saying, "But I was hungry, and ye fed me not. I was sick, and ye visited me not. I was naked, and ye clothed me not. I was in prison, and you weren’t concerned about me. So get out of my face. What did you do for others?" This is the breadth of life.
Source: An excerpt from a version of his popular sermon “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” Delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, on April 9, 1967