WHEN MEN HATE YOU

 

Jesus Christ said, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake." (Luke 6:22) Jesus later said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26) Our Savior made clear the fact that those who love the truth, obey the truth, and teach the truth will be hated by some men. Jesus told His apostles, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18, 19) The apostle Paul later said, "Yes, and all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12) Peter wrote, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 4:12, 13)

All of the passages just quoted teach us some very important things concerning the nature of truth, obedience to the truth, and the teaching of truth. First of all we see that not everyone will accept the truth. Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." (Matthew 7:13) Second, we understand that many of those who reject the truth will also oppose the truth. In fact, some of those who oppose the truth will so do with great hatred, and sometimes terrible violence.

How should we react when we are mistreated by those who hate the truth? Jesus said, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11, 12). We must rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41). In addition we must maintain a proper attitude toward our persecutors (Luke 6:27-29).

The fact that men will hate those who practice and preach the truth is enough to cause some to compromise the truth. There are individuals who would like to go to heaven, but who don't want to stand up for the Lord now. This is why Jesus said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32, 33) Those who do not have the courage to stand up for the faith when the faith is threatened and attacked do not have the courage to go to heaven.

Now let us get down to some specifics. If a preacher teaches the truth concerning the unique nature of the church of the New Testament he will find there are many people who become angry with him (Matthew 15:7-14; 16:18). Especially those in the denominational world who are in churches for which there is no authority. If a preacher stands opposed to man's changes to God's worship he will make some people angry. Stand up and ask for authority to have choirs and instruments in worship and you will very quickly become unpopular (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). When a preacher stands firmly for the truth with regard to the only Scriptural cause for divorce he will be brutally assailed by many (Matthew 19:9).

Consider now the Christian's stand on moral issues. Our moral standard is the highest in existence. Our ethical principles come from the pages of the New Testament. So, we stand opposed to sexual immorality, drunkenness, covetousness, and murder. Further, we stand firmly in favor of strong homes patterned after God's design, and we resist all efforts to destroy the home. God's moral standard makes us stand out from the world. In standing out we have in one sense judge the world to be guilty. We have shown that "...we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19) For this you will be hated.

The wicked will claim to be the most loving. The unrighteous will accuse us of being the most hateful. In reality it is we who love them and they who hate us. It has always been this way. It will be this way until the Lord returns. When He does return He will gather up the righteous to their reward and punish the wicked (2 Thessalonians 1:3, 12). Preach and practice the truth without shame and without fear (Romans 1:16). Stand up for what is right and stand opposed to what is wrong. Face the hatred and the persecution with courage and love. This is what you must do when men hate you. Kevin Rutherford; September 8, 2008; [West End church of Christ News; West End church of Christ, St. Charles, MO]