“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” I John 3:13
I don’t think I know of anyone that actually desires to be hated…no name comes to my mind at the moment. 🙂 But, the above verse is a reminder that being hated could be a reality in a Christian’s life. Again, I don’t think it is something that anyone would actually desire. Romans 12:18 exhorts us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” But, although that verse states our desire should be to live peaceably, it also insinuates that peace will not always be possible.
From the very first family all the way until today, we can see countless examples of contention and yes, even hatred between individuals…those that desire to live for God and those that are living in disobedience. We all know the story of Cain and Abel. What was Cain’s reason for killing his own brother? I John 3:12 tells us, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” Abel’s obedience to God made his disobedient brother very angry. Genesis 4:3-5 says, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Very simply put, Abel obeyed God. Cain disobeyed God. God accepted Abel’s offering. God rejected Cain’s offering. Cain became very angry and murdered his brother.
Two brothers. Two choices. One chose obedience to God and the other chose disobedience to God. The result was hatred in the disobedient brother’s heart toward the obedient brother. Why did Cain hate his brother just because Abel chose to obey God? Cain could have chosen obedience just as well. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?…” Genesis 4:6,7
If we, as believers, choose to live a consecrated life in obedience to God’s Word, we should not be surprised if there are individuals who are NOT THRILLED with our choice. In fact, the more we desire to be like Christ, the more we should EXPECT criticism, persecution and yes, even hatred. Isaiah 53:3 speaks of what our Saviour experienced, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Despised…rejected…sorrow…grief…if we are Christians (CHRIST-LIKE), why shouldn’t we expect the same? II Timothy 3:12 reminds us, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Persecution is a reality to those who strive to live godly.
“The world never burned a casual Christian at the stake.” ~ John R. Rice
Should we desire persecution and strife and hatred? No. A person who DESIRES and DELIGHTS in constant contention has a major PRIDE problem. “Only by pride cometh contention:…” Proverbs 13:10 We see no hint of pride in Abel’s obedience to God for, if pride had been present, God would have rejected his offering. God hates pride. “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6
The story of Cain and Abel is a reminder of what to expect when we choose to live consecrated lives to God. A NEW life in Christ may bring criticism. A NEW life in Christ may bring rejection. A NEW life in Christ may even bring hatred. Yes, a NEW life in Christ will rub some people the wrong way. Speaking of this, I Peter 4:4 says, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:”
The question is, are we OK with being spoken of in an evil manner?
I think it is everyone’s natural desire to be loved. But, there will be times when we will be faced with the choice to obey God and therefore PLEASE God while receiving negative reaction from individuals (to put it mildly). OR, we can choose to disobey God and therefore DISPLEASE God while receiving praise from those who are living in disobedience as well.
“They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.” Proverbs 28:4
It’s really our choice of WHO we desire to please.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
~ Rachel ~